Clairvoyant Visions of Vice President Dick
Episode 10 from Must Not Sleep, a new novel which takes place in shamanic space, a realm of shapeshifting and trance. Check out episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. A free download of Michael Brownstein reading from the novel is available on Podiobooks.com.
Repetition turns me into a mark. Doing the same things over and over makes me easily tracked. A known quantity.
I drifted around the city taking a different route each day. Maybe I was being watched in the vicinity of Georgia's apartment but if my movements were sufficiently unpredictable at least I could avoid being followed.
The run-up to war was in the air, providing the subject for conversations in cafes and on streetcorners, co-opting the voices which leaked from radios and TVs. Phrases swirled like teflon snow, permanently coating unsuspecting psyches: "pre-emptive strikes," "weapons of mass destruction," "democracy and freedom," "shock and awe," "the Iraqi people will welcome us as liberators."
Shock and awe...Mother of God, Dick's fingerprints are all over this war.
And the headlines:
TOP U.S. OFFICIALS PRESS CASE
LINKING IRAQ TO AL QAEDA
Powerful Evidence Showing a Connection
U.N. TERROR FUND:
Millions Go to Iraqi Thugs
INVADE IRAQ IN "WEEKS NOT MONTHS"
Time is Running Short
But I begged to differ: my time wasn't running short. On the contrary, as the days went by I drifted without expectation through the cold and the crowds, empty, clear as a bell. Sometimes I'd break into a slow trot, able to sense my surrroundings no matter where I happened to be looking.
Then one breezy afternoon, trotting along West 23rd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, looking up at the sky with eyes half-closed, I saw the same rambling Victorian house I'd glimpsed weeks before, its facade hovering in the clouds. And I heard Dick's voice:
"I'm not sure I can get back to my basement to re-charge. I might die right here in this rotten apartment if you don't help me. I need your light to heal me, baby boy."
Stopping in my tracks, catching my breath, I bent over with my hands on my knees and stared at the pavement. I saw Dick, grim-faced and striding along an office hallway accompanied by six entities: two Secret Service wearing earpieces, two military in uniform, and two assistants carrying metal suitcases. He approached an elevator, pressed the DOWN button, and waved off his entourage as he took one of the suitcases.
"I'll send you a postcard as soon as I arrive," he cracked, smiling for the first time. Turning to a man in a grey suit, he added, "Call me on the cellphone if anything comes up. Which it won't. We're in the saddle. Hamstringing the U.N. has been the fulfillment of one of my fondest dreams. Saddam's ass is grass. Order Justice to upgrade to red alert. We're through fucking around. And if the media inquires, tell them I've been whisked away to an undisclosed location. Far from the Superintendent's Residence. Far from the Beltway. At the other end of the universe," he chortled.
The elevator doors opened and he disappeared inside with a curt wave. The military saluted, spun on their heels, and walked quickly down a hallway.
The others stood in a tight circle conferring for several seconds and then scattered in different directions. I watched the red LED display above the elevator: -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. That's where it stopped.
The Superintendent's Residence...
Sometimes after being out on the freezing streets all day I'd get a little sloppy with the food thing. Returning to Georgia's place that evening, I collapsed on the sofa after a meal of Chinese take-out. Maybe it was the MSG rattling around in my system, but I couldn't stop thinking. The upcoming war in Iraq was just another red herring. The real battle came down to a struggle between light and dark. Between, on the one hand, whoever among us on Earth was still awake and, on the other, inhuman entities needing to take over the planet for their own reasons.
Hadn't Dick said as much that night downstairs?
"I'm what's known as an active link...Beings more powerful than you can conceive of who are directly involved in the fate of this planet..."
Which meant that the corporate overseers and paranoid militarists savaging this world were themselves in the clutches of a higher order of consciousness.
Talk about identity theft! Nanotechnology, cloning, GMOs, hormonal change from the alien chemicals coursing through our bloodstreams--the plan is nothing less than to turn us into aliens ourselves. Once the process has gone far enough, everyone will have bar codes on their foreheads. But by then we'll no longer notice what has happened. The codes will be invisible. The game will be over.
At that moment there was a loud knock.
A chill ran up my spine. C.I.A.? Delta Force? But how could Dick know I'd seen him at the Superintendent's Residence, wherever that might be? And even if he's able to track me so closely, I have nothing to fear. Death is no more than a dream.
"I AM the universe," I sang out as I opened the door.
Janine stood in the hallway looking sheepish.
"Oh, Isaac," she said, "Tell me, is Georgia here? I've been thinking about her a lot lately and I wondered if maybe the three of us--if it's possible--"
I laughed, leaning forward and kissing her. "You're a jewel. Georgia's still gone. But that beautiful coat of yours, Janine. I want to feel its silk lining again on the floor underneath us."
After we'd worn each other out making love we lay in the dark for a while, listening to the traffic outside.
"I wish I could lie here with you forever," she whispered, "but to tell you the truth I'm getting antsy. I need to go. It's best if I wake up in my own bed, do you understand? I hope you don't mind. I haven't been able to concentrate at work and there's a pile of stuff waiting for me."
She sighed. "No rest for the New York weary."
"That's OK. But I have a favor to ask. Remember I told you how Georgia and I burned everything from the past, including our IDs? Well, things are getting tight for me now. I may be coming up against the creepy men who never smile, do you understand? The ones who swoop down out of the sky in black helicopters without asking questions. I'll have to move fast. It would help tremendously if I'm carrying some kind of identification. Do you have any ideas?"
She got up and turned on the standing lamp. As she dressed she gave me an anxious look.
"You're not in trouble, are you? Do you need more money? Here..."
She opened her pocketbook and dropped some bills on the dresser next to the bed.
"No, I'm not in trouble."
"Good...Isaac, I have to tell you that the last time we were together, after I gave you that money I felt lighter than air. It freed up something inside me. Janine the Controller exhaled and rolled overboard into the ocean."
She laughed. "Isn't that wild? That's the image that came and it stayed with me all day at work. Swimming naked in the sea. One of the worst days I've had in a long time, by the way. I almost quit, for God's sake. Can you imagine that? I really did. I fantasized about taking you away with me. Flying down to the Caribbean. Playing with the dolphins. Never returning. But then I came to my senses. I love my work. I'd be lost without it. I mean, normally when I go on vacation after two or three days I can't wait to get back. Like that cabin I have upstate--I hardly ever use it."
I walked her to the door.
"About the ID," I said.
She glanced at the cross on my chest.
"And I'm so happy I gave my cross to you. I never would have done something like that before we met. It's very special. I wore it every day for years and years. How liberating just to give it away!"
Knitting her brow, she added, "I'm not sure, Isaac. Not exactly my kettle of fish. Although, come to think of it, I do know some people in the Bahamas. Offshore banking. They're pretty sleazy. This one guy owes me a favor. Or he will after tomorrow."
She smiled. "Let me see what I can do."
I caught her eye and said, "That's good. It just has to be soon, is all."
MUST NOT SLEEP
MUST WARN OTHERS
I hadn't walked two blocks the next morning when I saw it, sprayed on the side of a delivery truck parked in front of a cafe. The letters were still sticky when I touched them. What a kick in the head. But something else was tugging at my memory now. I turned and looked at my reflection in the cafe window. I wasn't smiling.
In a sudden rush everything I'd been repressing welled up in my consciousness. I saw the truth-serum headlines about 9/11. I saw Georgia emerging onto the sidewalk in Osama's arms. I saw her returning to the apartment later that evening and soothing me. Telling me that beliefs create experience. And then I heard her saying, "Must not sleep, must warn others."
I watched myself collapsing in terror. Waking up the next morning with an edited memory. Making love to her. Comforting her. Solicitous of her welfare. Never for a moment suspecting what had taken place.
I had to find her. Today. Now.
It was drizzling and the temperature was in the upper 40s, much warmer than on the previous day. Overdressed in my white down parka, I soon returned to the apartment to take it off.
Opening the door, I immediately sensed her presence. My heart pounded as I walked from room to room calling her name. But she wasn't there, although her closet door was ajar, the clothes off their hangers. Jerseys, panties, jeans and sweaters were strewn around the floor. That wasn't like Georgia, always so neat and organized. But I could smell her in the room. I wanted her next to me. I wanted to lick her skin, kiss her breasts.
I ran down the stairs and into the street. By now the drizzle had turned to a steady rain. I stood in the entryway for a moment.
Sharpen your intention like a knife.
Glancing to my left, downtown, I started walking. At first I kept to the eaves and overhangs of buildings but then I embraced the rain, coveting it. The white embroidered blouse soon stuck to my body. By the time I reached Tribeca I'd taken it off and wrapped it around my hips. Bare-chested, my hair and beard wet and matted, I paused on the cobblestones at the intersection of West Broadway and Reade Streets. Something made me spin around and look back uptown. And there she was. Her slim dancer's body, her honey-colored hair.
She stood against a brick wall beside a muscular, scruffy-looking guy who had one arm around her while the other held an umbrella. Dirty blond dreadlocks cascaded down his shoulders. The two of them were deep in conversation and when I called her name again she didn't respond.
I walked up to them, catching a whiff of unwashed flesh.
"Georgia," I said, "it's me. Isaac." I smiled.
She turned and looked through me, her eyes cold and vacant, a glance from the void.
"Georgia," she said. "Who's Georgia? My name is Mary."
Pale and skeletal, she wore a black t-shirt and beat-up jeans. The sleeves of a soiled tan trenchcoat were rolled up to her elbows. I noticed the needle tracks on one of her forearms.
The guy moved between us. He was wearing a cowrie shell necklace on a leather string.
"What's your problem, monkey man?"
Still smiling, I said, "Actually, my name is Isaac. And I know you from somewhere."
"Yeah?" He told her to hold the umbrella.
"Listen," he said, "if you don't get lost in the next ten seconds--"
"I remember now. On Houston Street, wasn't it? During that hot weather at the end of January. Georgia and I ran into you. You tried to latch onto us. You thought you recognized her from down in Mexico...Tulum..."
Peering into bloodshot eyes I laughed and said, "Adonis! How could I forget a name like that? Adonis, god of youth and beauty."
Georgia reached out and jabbed a forefinger into my chest.
"Fuck you, Isaac," she said in a brittle voice, the pupils of her eyes no more than pinpoints. "You don't own me. Your image of me as your consort, all that garbage, it's just your projection. I belong to Adonis."
"That's right," he said, leering at me. "She's my sacred prostitute."
Standing there bare-chested in the rain I started to tremble. "Georgia--"
"Mary, you bastard!" she screamed.
"Mary, listen to me."
Making eye contact with her I poured all the light I had into those contracted pupils.
"Remember the last time we saw each other, in the hallway outside the old man's apartment? You begged me not to go down there but I did. And when he opened the door you called him ‘Papa.' Well, he's a lot more than just your father. Something really heavy is going on, sweetheart. I need your help."
Holding her glance, in my peripheral vision I flashed on a little white satin sundress and a bright yellow plastic purse. The kind of purse a six-year-old girl might treasure.
Adonis pushed her out of the way and lunged toward me.
Red energy surging into my chest, I faced him and shouted, "You're nothing. You revel in it, but it's a black hole that's eating you up. You saw the light radiating from us that day and it drove you crazy. You wanted to suck the light right out of us. You sensed the Goddess standing there on that sidewalk and you tried to glom onto her with your phony story about Tulum. You're consumed by your own darkness. You can't see a way out. You believe you're stuck forever. What a hell realm!"
I paused, slowing the cadence of my words. "But I know where it all started, Adonis...I see your childhood...I see so much cruelty and abuse...You think it's impossible to change...You think you don't deserve to change...But I know otherwise...I see the tender boy inside you...Fearful and alone...Crying out for someone to love him...He never went away, you know...He's been hiding in there your whole life."
Hyperventilating, he swallowed hard.
Looking inside I pushed further.
"That light you want, you can have it for the time that remains to you. But it's your choice. A choice you have to make now. Because you're dying, Adonis. Don't try to deny it. Either you risk changing or in another couple of months...Six at most...Am I right?...Your liver...Something...I'm sorry, angel."
I reached out and cupped my right hand behind his neck under the rank-smelling dreadlocks. Drawing him close to me I kissed him on the lips, sending my tongue into his mouth, holding my breath to keep from inhaling the rot.
"I denied you once but never again," I said. "I love you, Adonis. I'll always love you."
He sank to his knees and wrapped his arms around my legs. Rubbing his face back and forth against my crotch, he sobbed, "Let me be your dog, Isaac. Please. Whatever you want. Just don't abandon me."
I pulled away from him.
"I know you have a room someplace in the city. Go there for seven days. See no one else. Face yourself. It's up to you. There's nothing I can do for you now. But I'm trusting you, Adonis. I'm going to give you our address. A week from now, come to us. Your new life will begin then."
I whispered the address in his ear and then, stepping away from him, turned to Georgia and took her hand. Kissing her cheek I said, "We have to go now, my darling. I told you. I need your help and you need mine. That's the way it is."
Belief creates experience--if that's true for others, what about for me?
The tracks I'd seen on her forearm turned out to be stitches. She and Adonis had done plenty of speed and downers and one day he'd gotten rough--or sloppy--slicing her arm with a Bowie knife. She described rushing to the emergency room at St. Vincent's, the blood all over the taxi, the bored, supercilious doctors, the problem when it came time to pay.
Adonis had caused a scene about the bill and she'd been able to slip away from him, emerging onto Seventh Avenue disoriented, in pain, without a cent in her jeans.
"I was scared. I missed you so much," she said. "I wanted to come back here but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I sat on the curb until he rushed outside and it all started up again."
"No, it's not. I lost my way with Adonis, I don't know what happened. I can't remember how you and I got separated. I can't remember where he came into the picture. I can't remember how long I was with him. But out there on the street when you mentioned standing in the hallway I instantly turned into a little girl again. I could feel it in my body. Looking up at my father with adoration. Wanting him to love me. Wanting it so bad."
"And even then, at that age, I knew how sick he was. Cruel and heartless. But I would have done anything for his approval. For his acceptance. Why is that?"
Her lips trembled as she said, "I'm afraid, Isaac. I don't know who I am."
We were lying in bed, our arms around each other. I sat up and said, "Listen, nobody knows who they are. That's the big secret. It's just that most people refuse to admit it. They'll do anything to keep from falling into that hole. So, believe it or not, the fear you're feeling is good. Because if you can pop it then you're free. Then not knowing who you are is liberating."
She shook her head back and forth. "You don't get it. The undertow was too strong. It pulled me out to sea. I was drowning with Adonis, totally lost. What kind of freedom is that?"
"Sit up," I said. "Just breathe, Georgia. Whatever thoughts arise, know that they don't own you. I have a mind but I'm not my mind. I have emotions but I'm not my emotions. I have a body but I'm not my body...And where's that smile?"
She began to calm down as I said, "Do you know about scrying? It's when you journey by using another person's eyes as the jumping-off place, the field of vision...Look directly into my eyes, Georgia...You're going to journey to the upper world where a spirit guide awaits you...A being of light who cares about you...Take your time...We have all day, all night...Now you find yourself in a luminous expanse...Look around...You see many different beings...They're all smiling at you...Wordlessly you inquire which one is your guide...He or she approaches you...Ask for help...Ask for cleansing, for renewal...Trust this...Let yourself go."
Time out of time went by.
When she finally returned, her smile was luminous.
"I feel like myself again," she said incredulously. "It's total magic."
She looked into the distance, her voice full of emotion. "Because I found a friend up there. Someone who loves me unconditionally, who accepts me. He said I have every reason to be proud. He told me the Goddess lives inside me always. Even if I sometimes forget. Even if I lose track. He said no blame. No matter what happens. No blame! And he showed me how to get out of my own way. How to let the Goddess take her rightful place."
Pausing, she smiled to herself then added, "We lost track of each other, didn't we? But now we're together. That's what counts...I'm exhausted. It feels wonderful to be home. And that beard, Isaac. It looks great. Never shave it off."
I went out and bought food, flowers, and candles. After I cleaned the apartment we sat down to a quiet meal. As soon as Georgia finished eating she fell asleep on the sofa. I carried her into the bedroom, lay her on the bed, and softly shut the door.
Image by from a second story, courtesy of Creative Commons license.