Doctor JW Jones looked yet again at the wooden box attached to the wall, eager for the colorfully and, if you let your imagination get the better of you, ominous avian inhabitant inside of it to exit again. It wasn’t that the 30 going on 80 year old Psychiatrist was intrigued by how cookoo clocks worked, or even that the bird which came out whenever it felt like it, so it seemed. Indeed, the star medical student who had become an acclaimed resident, then a tenured attendant at NYU was not intrigued by anything anymore, or anyone. Everything in his life had fit into a formula in his head, or one given to him by one of the medical masters before him, immortalized in print. On exams he was rewarded more for regurgitating back data than coming up with insightful new perspectives. But JW had enough of being rewarded for continuing the status quo, especially because he was so good at maintaining it. The slender, always appropriately groomed Poster Mensch for the Old Guard and the Young Turks wanted and need to be his own medical master. Not a disciple of any school of psychiatry, but the originator of a new one.
The patient under the clock, who JW ‘burrowed’ from a very locked ward, seemed to be the key to a new understanding of the human condition, as it is, could be, and should be. Yet, as JW glanced at the still silent old man under the cookoo clock, he wondered who would be the patient and who would be the doctor. Who would be the experiment and who would be the experimenter. And, most importantly, when the bird inside the ticking hand carved house would emerge in key points in the human conversation, saying who is ‘cookoo’, and who is doomed, and cursed, to not colorfully crazy. But the investigation was already underway. To abandon it now was not only unprofessional, but counter-productive. And if the law caught up to JW before it was completed on MANY levels, highly prosecutable for all concerned.
Finally, after five more minutes that seemed like hours to the well trained Doc, and a flashing moment in eternity to the wooden cookoo bird, JW gave voice to the central question. It was a loaded one, affording many options for answering. “Who were you then, and who are you now? And, who do you want and need to be?” he asked the subject of his investigation, and the last hope for his professional survival.
The weatherbeaten lips on the Old Man’s wrinkled face cracked up into a somber and ominous smile, framed by a thin, straggly white beard defiantly sticking out in every direction possible. The cerebral ensemble was topped off by a mane of thinning white hair that flowed down below his thin but still proudly arched shoulders, covered by a partially beaded weather-beaten leather coat still retaining half of its fringes which smelled of a century of hard, but honest, living. The seventy-five year old dinosaur who had not read not believed that his species was not extinct turned his arthritic neck towards JW. The old fart blasted the young Turk with yet another ‘blessing’ with his piercing blue eyes, which this time matched what came out of his mouth. “What do I want and need to be, you ask? What I have to be so I can merge into this next stage of…” He hesitated, his stare looking both out the window and behind his eyes at the same time, then after five seconds that felt like as many minutes, finally gave voice to his many Visions, and/or delusions, again. The Old Man turned to the young one, this time as a teacher rather than seeker. “The next stage of…what’s that weird acid trip that happens after you get pushed out of the womb without a guidebook and before the Mama Ship comes by to take you back to Om planet?”
“Life,” JW answered, still playing the role of the obedient, compliant and hopefully effective student to the geriatric ‘professor philosopher’, who knew as little about the contemporary classroom as JW knew about what it was like in the ‘good old days’ of ‘sex, drugs, music and revolution’ way back in the past century. He looked once more at the Old Man’s file, containing official information about his arrest and his progress as a psych patient who never fit into any classification of mental or neurological diseases. “What’s between birth and death is life, Mister Millhouse. Life.”
“Which you’ve studied, dissected and rejected,” the old man informed the young one with a familiar musicality in his voice that JW found himself admiring, hating and envying. “Studied, dissected and rejected,” Mister Millhouse, who preferred to be called OLD Harvey, continued in a strangely dissonant song with notes that only connected if felt rather than defined as any kind of melody. “Studied, dissected and rejected.”
“And your conclusions from your studies, dissections and rejections?” JW inquired, having had enough Socratic ‘lessons’ for the day, and year.
“Him or her,” Old Harvey said, abruptly changing contexts, and subtext, as was his habit and passion. He pointing to a cookoo clock on the wall in front of him. “Him, or her, who is…”
“Cookoo, cookoo, cookoo,” answered the bird as he, she, or it exited the hand carved oak mansion connected to a set of time telling hands on the clock which moved at its own speed, despite what the pendulum under it did.
Harvey answered the avian intruder in a language JW didn’t speak, or recognize. In a conversation between human dinosaur and wooden bird that went on for at least ten volleys, till the bird turned to JW, seeming to look sadly at him, then retreated back into its box.
“What did you say to that bird, Harvey?” JW inquired from behind his pad and pen.
“I just answered the questions asked of me,” Old Harvey replied. He sat back on the chair to which he was restrained as if it was a lounging seat in an office where he could come and go as he pleased, and do what he pleased.
“And those questions were?” JW asked, leaning forward, taking in the décor of the hotel room he had snuck Old Harvey into, against all court orders and medical recommendations from his fellow ‘head healers’.
“You wouldn’t understand them even if I translated them for you,” ‘Professor’ Harvey explained as he looked at the bedroom he had occupied half a century ago, enduring and enjoying numerous sleeps under the watchful eye, and sometimes loud mouth, of the cookoo bird. “You could get a Ph.D. avian linguistics and still know shit about what the bird or any other is really talking about, no offense.”
“Because I’m not versant in the language of cookoo?” the young Doc asked the old coot, as respectfully as he could.
“Because you aren’t listening!” Harvey blasted back. “With this, or this?” he continued, pointing to his head, and heart.
JW felt like he was now cast as the head smart, but soul dead, Engineer in a remake of Zorba the Greek, merged of course with One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest. This Zorba had no biological Hellenic ancestry in him, but he had a Greek presence to him which occasionally filtered into his distinctively common North Jersey diction. It did so particularly when Old Harvey became philosophical. Or when he talked about the power of Fate and the need to combat futility against it, a Hellenic trademark since the time of Homer. His features were North American Indian, depending on how the light hit his high cheek-boned, particularly when it penetrated through his thin straggley. beard. But whoever Old Harvey was, he went on about the bird, who he finally defined by name, gender and favorite obscession. “At least Petros didn’t shit on you, Doc,” Harvey noted rolling his ‘r’s to excess now. “He usually does that at first meeting with a new arrival.”
“So he decided to piss on me instead?!!!” JW growled back, feeling a stream of water sprinking the top of the head, gently neandering down his back from the speaking platform of the clock. “And what did I do to you!” he screamed back at the bird that had “What do I look like?”
“Cookoo”, the bird replied, several times, after which he scurried back into his house. Maybe on his human master’s command, as JW noted a rusted covered remote control in Harvey’s shaking hand. How it got there, JW didn’t know.
“Alright, enough with the props we let you bring into this hotel room of yours,” the young Doc growled at the old First Nations Zorba. “Props from you childhood?” he inquired, re-gaining his professional composure.
“A childhood that I never appreciated until I was an adult,” the reply.
“But re-created when you were an adult?” JW asked, finally feeling a crack in the wall between him and the mental patient who the authorities deemed dangerous to himself and others, with regard to body, mind and spirit. “I really am interested in the dreams, and aspirations, you had as a child.”
“You mean the nightmare I called adolescence,” Harvey replied, with a strange and secretive bitterness. “During the dream time the cool kids, and the ‘made it to the top’ Yuppie scum’, now call 1970.”
With that, Harvey pointed to a blood-stained, severely paint chipped cabinet bearing burn marks and bullet holes in the hotel room that was condemned for twenty years, and un-occupied for another two decades. “There’s a tape recorder in there, or at least there was. Reel to reel, using what we back in the prehistoric pre-Microsoft days referred to as tape.” he said, unable to retrieve it himself with the restraints on his wrists. “To preserve words spoken by people long after their soul decides to finally divorce itself from a mismatched body. It should work. With some adjustments.”
“As I am sure my recording device does, without any adjustments!” JW replied, pulling out the latest state of the art digital recorder from his briefcase.
“Not anymore it does, not here anyway,” Harvey said. “Right?” he said to the bird above him.
The avian messenger popped out of his house, turned around its ass. It dumped a wad of brown caustic fluid on the digital recorder, causing it to go into flames. Or maybe the acidic brown ooze came in from the roof of the establishment, which was in as much need of repair as the barely standing walls, and the barely functional arthritic legs of Harvey. In any case, JW nodded to his assistant, Police Inspector Anna McGilvry, to pull out the tape recorder and lay it on the desk in front of Harvey.
“Thank you, Wanda,” Old Harvey smiled, with appreciation.
“Her name is Officer McGilvry,” JW pointed out regarding the twenty-five year old assistant next to him, clad in blue uniform which hid every attractive female or friendly feature. Her long red hair was tied back in a bun as tight as her lips had been ever consenting to assist JW in bringing this nearly escaped patient-prisoner to this secluded location without going through any proper channels, or his consent. “Like it says on her badge,” JW continued, pointing to Anna McGilvry’s tightly wrapped upper chest. “Officer McGilvry.”
“But under the badge, she is someone else,” Harvey assured the Doc, with admiration, and affection. “Just as under that lab coat, you are not who you think you are, Doctor JW Jones, who still hasn’t told me, or maybe even Officer McGilvry, what JW really stands for, ‘’Jackass Weiner’.”
“Then who am I?” JW challenged Harvey. “And who is Officer McGilvry?”
Harvey hesitated, seeming to want to say so much. Finally, after expressing twenty different emotions on his face raging from paralytic grief to accusative rage, he turned to JW. “For now, Officer McGilvry is someone who knows nothing about tape recorders.”
“Ditto on that,” McGilvry noted. She turned to Harvey. “And you do, know something about broken, vintage tape recorders?”
“Amongst other things,” Harvey he related, motioning for her to push the recorder closer to his hands. He requested that the restraints on the wrists be released, which McGilvry reluctantly did. “And very few other things,” the old man confessed, and related, feeling the freedom in his wrists.
Officer McGilvry and Doctor Jones watched as Harvey’s knarled, arthritic fingers resurrected the pile of spools and tapes into a good as new unit. “And this one way conversation between me and the good doctor is between us!” the old dinasaur then blasted at the birdhouse. “Close the door, Petros, and stay inside until I, the Fates, the gods, or the Ultimate Energy that needs no power to be expressed says so, okay?”
The bird announced a ‘cookoo’ from inside his house.
“That means ‘yes’, I’m assuming?” JW surmised.
“Indeed it does, which means you are ready to hear the real story about what happened here 40 years ago,” Old Harvey said, proudly. “Which I will tell from my own honest, and I hope not destructively defective perspective and in a voice that will surprise you, and maybe transform me.”
It was May, a year after Harvey graduated High School, class of 1969. Or survived it anyway. The place, Hackensack, New Jersey. Another one of those safe, sort of green, suburban hubs where the rejects who couldn’t make it financially or professionally in Manhattan lived, though most of them knew it was just existence. Woodstock happened the year before, summoning whoever dared to change the system to get their asses to Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, those who wanted to leave the system and create their own fucked off to the West Coast. Of course there were also Greasers in my class who decided that the golden age of American consciousness was 1956 and should stay that way. Most of them joined the American Armed Forces voluntarily before being drafted, to please their parents, get a good paying job, or to cast themselves as John Wayne in the movie playing in their patriotic, short-haired heads.
Being drafted, if you weren’t a Greaser, was the thing that every kid who wanted to be his own man feared, for a lot of reasons. Getting killed or permanently injured in combat was only one of them.
To avoid being drafted, you had to be clever, real good at something else the country could use. Or getting an education so you could do something important. Or convincing your girlfriend to become your wife and have your baby. Young Harvey, who I used to be, sucked at all of them, most particularly when he tried really hard to do them.
The bedroom where he grew up was littered with rejection slips from colleges he could afford to get into, ‘go fuck yourself’ letters from old girlfriends who he thought loved him, and requests to join Pacifist seminaries. Every time he tried to toss them into the can, or tear them up, his mother would pick them back up and tape them together. His father insisted that he post them on the wall of his room, so he could see how much of a loser he was, so that he’d hit ‘rock bottom’, pick himself up off the ground, and make himself a winner.
But what hit Harvey hardest was rejection from the people in charge of the New Revolution, particularly when he put blood, sweat, tears and truth into the books, music tapes and sketches he sent in to the publication houses, magazines and production companies. The pile of rejection slips came in faster than he could throw them away. Though voted the ‘most ignorable and insignificant’ student in his class in the yearbook, Harvey still kept trying to make a life of his own rather than accepting the one assigned to him. Yet it was getting harder each day, those days leading to nights of dreams that both exhausted and dis-empowered him.
“Cookoo” the bird residing in the hand carved clock on the wall of his room announced, at the crack of dawn on that fateful day in May. Recalling that he had given his avian ‘companion’ the morning off by turning off the clock the night before, or trying to anyway, Harvey reached for a dart gun next to his bed and aimed it at the bird. The first shot missed, as did the second and third, the last one boomeranging against the wall, landing into Harvey’s crotch, the other into his thigh.
Harvey’s screams echoed into the room next to him. “Time for you to go to the next ‘life opening’ audition’ you’re going to fuck up,” Harvey’s Dad, retired Sergeant Bill ‘Wildcat’ Millhouse announced. “Or get a sensible job and make something of your life.”
“Which doesn’t include waking me and your father up,” Harvey’s Mom added. “Or trying to shoot that cookoo clock. It’s a work of art. A gift from your sainted Grandfather.”
“Who had to have been deaf, or crazy!” Harvey blasted back as he pulled the dart out of his man-sack, which had never been seen or felt by any human female life form since he sprouted pubic hairs. “I don’t want that cookoo clock in my room!”
“As long as you live under MY roof, my rules!” Dad commanded, with a voice as disappointed as angry.
“Our rules. Until you learn to stand on your own two feet,” Mom added, along with Dad, in unison.
“Which I’m trying to do!” Harvey insisted, yet again. To prove his point, Harvey pulled one foot out of bed, planting it on the floor, followed by the other, which landed squarely on a banana peel, then onto the floor atop a painful elbow. “With an arm that I think is broken.”
“Or you purposely broke, so you would fuck up again, ‘Maestro’?” Wild, now in reality Mild Bill’ Dad exclaimed with a self-indulgent laugh as Harvey looked at the violin he was due to take to the audition he had at noon.
“Or as part of your Ph.D. thesis project in that Mother Earth News Master’s Degree in Self Sabotage?” his loving Mother added with a mocking chuckle, as Harvey’s gaze was held captive by the rejection slips from Hip magazines, Cool Journals and With It publishers which were re-posted on the wall next to his bed. Postings which she no doubt put there last night, under the cookoo clock that his father no doubt put back on active alarm. “But it’s alright, you’re supposed to fail at things you aren’t supposed to do,” she added in a maternal tone.
“Not this time!” Harvey ran his fingers through his chin length hair, which he had been trying to grow down to the shoulders, as everyone else his age had been doing. “At least they didn’t cut my hair in my sleep,” he whispered to himself. He then looked up at the bird, looking down on him from the clock he was required to have with him every night. “And if you suggest that they give me a haircut again that they think will motivate me to make something of myself in their world, I’ll rip your balls or ovaries out. I’m not a failure. And I’m not…”
“Cookoo?” the bird said, after which it quickly retreated into its cave, describing in words what young Harvey thought he really was while he saw himself as a young man, and an even less societal integratable old one in the mirror. But it beat being normal, or worse, uncreative.
To prove his worth as the latter, Harvey wrapped his arm up in an ace bandage, brushed his teeth, flopped his hair into something symmetrical, grabbed his violin and headed into the city for an audition with the man, or rather the musical god, who could deliver him from the ‘go nowhere’ fate everyone said was inevitable for him.
The idol in question was Brad Youngblood, the coolest, hippest and, even in Harvey’s eyes, the deepest and most exciting musician this side of the pond, who lived by the premise that no pain can equal big gain. His rock operas were classy, perfectly orchestrated. Considered the classiest and hippest import from Britain since the Beatles. To be in his traveling orchestra would be the highlight of anyone’s career, particularly because Brad encouraged free thinking musicians to join him. And, finally, Harvey was able to get an audition with him. He had sent in his audition tape, and got back an ‘it sounds interesting enough. Now come excite me’ reply. Appended by a ‘this is the one and only day in the next year I have time to hear you.’
Brad sat in the middle of the empty auditorium of the concert hall at Julliard, his long, shoulder length hair framing a neatly chiseled face and perfectly trimmed extra large sized mustache. Clinging to his arms were two hot babes clad in the latest Bell Bottomed fashion jeans, flowing low cut ‘people’s revolutionary’ blouses that showed off their size perfect breasts, nestled by their long, blonde hair. As Harvey got on the empty stage, he noticed something, other than his aching and shaking arm, which made it impossible to hold on to the violin without feeling excruciating pain. When he struck the first note, there was something even more painful about hearing what was in his head come out a lot more wobbly. There was something about this new leader of the Independence of Thought and Spirit Revolution and his new female disciples that looked …familiar.
In his mind, Harvey saw Brad with shorter hair, a thin tie around his neck rather than a cool bandana, and a suit jacket instead of the multicolored ‘Injun’ fringed leather jacket he was sporting now. Youngblood was the spitting image of the Captain of the jock football team who controlled the High School newspaper. The budding and now overly scholar-shiped journalist who had made colorful ridiculing digs about Harvey’s ‘way too out there’ short stories and poems to his face, and in print afterwards. As for the hippie babes swooning all over Youngblood, put their hair back into Barbie pony tails, replace their bell bottoms with respectable skirts, and they bore an ominous resemblance to the cheerleaders who, at every chance they could off the field, colorfully ‘boo’d’ every attempt Harvey made at expressing himself as a social changer, artist and man. “But maybe it’s just my cookoo imagination,” Harvey told himself as he continued to play his original composition, based on the themes in Youngblood’s rock operas and other LPs. “The music will free us all, and if anyone is the musical spearhead for the Revolution that will include EVERYONE, particularly hard working, underappreciated revolutionaries like me, it’s Youngblood,” Harvey’s soul screamed into his brain. More notes came out through his excruciatingly-hurting arm, the bow listening to what was in Harvey’s head, and the strings expressing what was in his heart.
After two or three passages he had rehearsed, and four more that came from sources he couldn’t identify, Harvey took in a deep breath, grunted a ‘you’re not going to go paralytic on me’ to his arm and prepared for the finale which was rushing up his spinal cord from the fire in his gut. He struck the first note, then heard a loud voice blasting into his head from above.
“Stop, please!” came from the loud speakers in a crisp, confident and classy English accent. “What is this that my ears just experienced and which jarred my sensibilities so much?’ Harvey’s musical idol Brad inquired.
“Intensity plus sincerity converts sound into music,” Harvey proclaimed, proudly, knowing fully well from watching interviews with Maestro Youngblood that he was fond of mixing colorful insults into his compliments. “The revolutionary math,” Harvey continued with his voice, as he added musical accompaniment to it, the pain in his arm converted somehow into musical Passion, big P. “Lyrics from your last opera that are being channeled into Beethovian intensity that transcend any BeeGee passivity. For your new opera.”
“Which I’ll obviously have to revise considerably before incorporating into my new opera,” Youngblood replied, in a voice infused with arrogance, and condescension. “Which won’t include any suburban Colonial New Jersey suburb wannabes who think they can do anything significant in the Revolution.” He then turned to his groupies. “What should we do with this pathetic and pitiful, yet still struggling soul, Maidens of the movement?”
“Maybe this nerd can sell tea shirts in the lobby,” Groupie one suggested.
“With pictures of us on them, right?” her girlfriend added.
As the trio of elitists chuckled, then whispered no doubt more clever digs at the suburban violinist whose music, mannerism and attire were obviously not the brand of ‘cool’ the revolution wanted now, Harvey played harder. He hit more wrong notes this time, but the passages between them were very Right, big R. In ways that felt bigger, better and deeper than anything Youngblood had recorded, or the Barbie-turned-Hippie babes next to him could understand, or feel.
Youngblood allowed Harvey an extra two minutes. As Harvey saw it, Youngblood was changing his mind. He could see the Maestro focusing on him, bringing the audience of cheerleaders turned social reformer with him. Youngblood stroked his mustache with that ‘yes, this is very intriguing and interesting’ look Harvey had seen in movie clips of the rock star, and his British contemporaries. “Yeah. This was another one of Youngblood’s tests. To see if I have character, grit and talent,” Harvey said to himself as he finished the composition he had written on the spot in his head, and heart.
“So,” now ‘Brother in Arms’ Brad said to Harvey. “Thou who hast struggled to do what Fate decreed lost before the game was afoot,” he continued in complimentary Shaeksperian. “Be off, and dwell within the boundaries to which thou were spawned, so you can imbibe in the simple pleasures of mindless merriment.”
“Huh?” Harvey self observed coming out of his mouth.
“Translation, fuck off loser,” emanated through the thin, ruby red lips of Groupie 1.
“Get out of the new road ‘cause you can’t lend a hand,” Groupie 2 sung to the melody of Dylan’s top forty Revolutionary song that made the Establishment record companies rich.
“Cause the times for you won’t be changing,” Youngblood added in song, with a bitter pill of pity and a sugar coating of understanding to it. “And the music you were playing should sound like this,” he continued, proudly striding up to the stage. He grabbed hold of Harvey’s violin, then commenced playing the North Jersey suburban loser’s composition back to him. “Without mistakes. Without irratic outbursts. Without outdated expressions of primal rage,” the Rock Maestro continued.
“And without passion, heart or originality,” Harvey thought to himself as he observed his newly inspired composition being refined, sterilized and most probably about to be stolen.
Harvey looked at the Barbie bitches swooning over the ‘brilliant’ Meastro’s music, edging their way forward so as to show off the mammary wares on their chest. After finally deciding which babe to fuck first, Youngblood handed the violin back to Harvey. “Next!” he yelled out.
His violin in hand, Harvey shuffled off stage, noting a Janitor’s cart pushed over towards him. “Yeah, you’re right,” he said to the sky, preparing to toss the instrument into the large garbage can on it.
The hand of a Latino man inserted its way between the violin and the trash can. Its owner, a small framed man with facial features even more ‘common working caste’ than Harvey, looked at him with understanding eyes. Then he turned towards a preoccupied Youngblood, throwing at him a defiant stare and third finger salute Harvey lamented he had not delivered into the arrogant Meastro’s face. But just as Youngblood turned around and thus be able to see the non-verbal attack, the Janitor hung an Out To Lunch sign on his cart, inviting Harvey to join him.
“Maybe it was the urban big city English accent that made me feel so suburban and fucking ‘colonial’,” Harvey said while the Latino janitor, who owned and operated a rusted out gypsy hotdog cart with fresh licencs plate on it a block away from Lincoln center, proudly pulled a fresh wiener out of the portable oven, placing it into a freshly toasted bun. “Or maybe even before I busted my arm, I couldn’t play the violin. At least the way people wanted me to play it,” the dejected suburban ‘wannabe’ ranted.
The janitor pointed to a vat of relish, requesting if Harvey wanted that on his dog. Harvey noded yes, of course. “Or maybe I can’t do anything right or well, the way people want it done anyway. But—“ he continued.
The gypsy-chef then pointed to a worn out, half-cracked tub of onions and un-definable spices, requesting his sole lunch-rush customer if he wanted such on the frank, describing the topping with another Spanish word Harvey pretended to understand.
“Si, por favor,” Harvey said, after which he continued, addressing the Fates beyond the early afternoon New Jersey soot which found its way across the river above him. “The harder I try to do something, the more impossible life makes it. Like becoming a doctor, or as a back up, a paramedic. A lawyer or, as a contingency, a clerk. An actor or, if things don’t work out as liked, an understudy. A writer or, if I absolutely have to, a proofreader. Or….”
Harvey’s attention turned away from the Immortal Spirit above to very mortal, and very hot, mortals on earth. “Or maybe I’d like to become just another too cool to sweat dude who gets cool in-crowd chicks like them to, ya know, just talk to me.” he said of two young, sun-glassed attractive and self-absorbed women passing by with a musical gait that bordered on playful, soul-liberating, non-judgmental dance. “Just talk!” he continued, speaking in their direction, as they upped their leisurely pace to a brisk walk. “Maybe, possibly if SHE wants it, something more, only if she wants it,” he continued, softly, knowing that that the joke the two girls were sharing was about him. “But in an age where love is free. I don’t even fucking know where to buy it,” he confided to his lunch host once he knew the girls were out of hearing rang.
The Latino hot dog vender, who carried himself off with more pride and dignity than any of the overpaid chefs in the restaurants around him, pointed to a fresh tray of various condiments, naming them in Spanish, requesting if Harvey wanted them. “Si, gracias,” Harvey said.
Once the dog was loaded with everything on the cart, Harvey looked at it, and smelled it. It was rich in both volume to his eyes, and exotic flavor to his oversized honker. He reached into his pocket to pay for the feast, then glanced at the price which was requested on the cart. “All I got,” he explained apologetically, having retrieved all of three dollars for the ten dollar dog, along with the subway tokens and bus passes he needed to get back across the river to Jersey.
The Janitor motioned for Harvey to keep his money. He split the overloaded super sized dog into two, giving Harvey the bigger portion. “To our common health and our soul’s well being,” he seemed to say, or so Harvey interpreted with his most idealistic translation.
“Viva the Revolution!” Harvey replied in his best accented Spanish. “Even though it’s probably already corrupted and lost,” he continued, after which he opened his mouth wide, prepared to toast whatever Life he and the Janitor were able to access in their assigned social stations.
The Janitor took a small bite of his portion of the overloaded wiener, enjoying the effect it had on his palate, and throat. Harvey, as hungry in the stomach for food as he was for a real friend to share it with, took in a big bite. His tongue experiencing the kind of fire he wished he could express with his gut, the back of his throat screaming out alarm bells for a drink of cold water.
“Bueno?” the Janitor asked with a wide, proud grin. “Good?” he continued, with a deeper pride and dignity.
“Si, Bueno,” Harvey said with an spice-incinerated throat, trying his best to force a thankful smile on his red-hot face. A face whose stare was kept hostage by a no doubt illegal immigrant Mexican chef who seemed to be thankful for a Gringo customer who appreciated his culinary skill.
The reward for such a white lie was another hot dog to take home, and what seemed to be blessing the Janitor put on Harvey’s violin, briefcase and forehead. “Via Con Dios” were his final words.
Little did Harvey know that ‘Go with God’ was the best advice he could get, particularly for a visitor who came to the house the next morning, where he was to receive a special delivery package, delivered by a very special deliverer.
The buzzer at Harvey’s parent’s house in Hackensack rang no less than ten times, waking him out of an uneasy slumber. The nightmare continued in non-dream time as he walked past the living room, where his Mother was knitting a sweater bearing the Stars and Stripes. His Father disapprovingly spit at Bergen County Herald, whose stories about the War abroad and the Movement at home didn’t value the flag enough for his tastes. It was up to Harvey to answer the door, despite the fact that he told his parents he wasn’t expecting anyone.
“I’m looking for Harvey Millhouse,” a warm and friendly female voice announced from having heard Harvey’s stumbling footsteps finally arriving at the door as he opened it. “THE Harvey Millhouse,” the beautiful, long haired maiden clad in a flowing flower power coat that went down past her knees continued as friendly escalated into congratulatory. She held in her hand an envelope attached to a clip board, and a smile on her angelic face that said ‘finally, you made it!’ somehow. “You are THE Harvey Millhouse?” the Delivery Angel asked yet again, impressed rather than disappointed or disgusted at the mess Harvey was when he got up in the morning.
“The ‘whatever’ Harvey Millhouse you want me to be,” Harvey self observed coming out of his mouth, regretting that he didn’t come up with something more witty or, as was his specialty, which made him increasingly unpopular with such women, realistically profound. “Or, I should say, I’m…” he continued pushing his hair off his face, putting an arch in his back, and kicking his brain in the ass so it could come up with something smarter.
“—Sure that you’re Harvey Millhouse?” she asked, this time with a tinge of official around her cordial and innocence-embracing tone. “My bosses need proof, so I can give you this award, and special invitation.”
Harvey eagerly reached into his back pocket, retrieving his wallet. He wondered if he was still dreaming, and even if so, which one of the multiple send outs of his poems, books or music finally reached someone who ‘got it’. One of the happening people who made things happen, allowing him to become part of those who made things happen, finally! The scenerios ran through his head and heart as he signed the clipboard. But Harvey had to give voice to something here to earn this honor. “All the tests I was given by Life, big L. I finally got a passing, satisfactory grade?” Harvey said as he was handed the envelope lacking a return address.
“Better,” she smiled. “You scored a 1-A,” the Angelic Dream Maiden proclaimed as her voice acquired a more earthly tone, with a diction that went South of the Mason Dixie line and straight into cold, hard, Redneckeze. “After you thought you could fool the draft board into thinking that you were four F, unable to serve mentally or physically, Private Millhouse,” she asserted while taking off her coat, revealing a US Army Sergeant’s uniform under it.
“Me? Drafted in the Army?” Harvey gasped while seeing his name on the papers, along with the location where he was to report in less than 5 days.
“It will make a man out of you, Harvey,” his mother said warmly as she walked towards to door, proudly putting her hand on his shaking shoulders, then the flag bearing sweater she had been making over it.
“The kind of man who will attract women like Sergeant Brenda there, son,” Harvey’s father once Wild now MILD Bill continued while still reading the newspaper.
As if on cue, Sergeant Brenda turned her stern lips up into a warm, erotic smile, stroking Harvey’s cheeks. “Because inside of you, I know there’s a man I’d love to get to know better, particularly if you enlist before you’re conscripted,” she said in a seductive Southern accent, but really meaning it. “In the Marines,” the Military Issue Southern Belle continued, pulling out another brochure, handing it to Harvey. “Where they’ll make you a Sergeant, or maybe even an officer after you graduate from boot camp.”
“Why?” Harvey blasted back, recalling with horror the patriotic films and mainstream comedies about Basic Training in the Corp, as well as knowing that the claim of being promoted to such a rank was pure BS. “Why will they make me a Sergeant or an officer just for going through boot camp, without even a college degree?”
“’Cause you got special qualifications, with a special kind of intelligence” Sergeant Brenda said, taking out a dossier on him. “And a Dad who has certain, connections.”
“What kind of connections?” Harvey blasted at his father, who never talked much about his experiences in the Armed Services. “And why do you, and Mom, want me to fight in a War I don’t believe in?” he continued, throwing off the Patriot Sweater his mother had worked so hard on making for him. “Or fight in ANY war! Or get yelled at by idiots who shave my head and try to put their bullshit into it! I’m not doing this!” Then he chanted, “Hell no, I won’t go!” as he tore up his induction letter into the Army and the ‘special contract’ his father had arranged for him to enlist in the Marines.
Without missing a beat, Brenda handed him a summons. “Then you are cordially invited to attend Court. Followed by incarceration for five years.”
“Cancer for five years?” Harvey blasted back, in horror.
“There ya go again,” Brenda replied, folding her arms like a schoolmarm. “Pretending that you have a third grade ‘vocabulry’ and to ‘ignerent’ to go into the Army.”
Harvey’s brain froze, unable to figure out the next move in this chess game that, due to his naïve believe in a kind, war-condemning God, he never thought that he would ever have to play. “I’m a fuck up in real life, so what makes you think I’m not gonna fuck up in the Army, where I can do some real harm to people, and other living things?” he advanced.
“Which you do so convincingly, by the way, lying like that,” Sergeant Brenda whispered into his ear, as one manipulator to another. “Lying on the fly…that’s the kind of genius with an IQ of 130 can perfect and expand when in uniform.”
“An IQ of what?” Harvey gasped.
Sergeant B presented Harvey with another envelope. “The test your High School guidance councilor gave you,” she explained as he opened it.
“That I couldn’t have scored that high on,” he said while looking at the test scores, which did bear the High School stamp, and Mister Linquist’s signature. “Or maybe I did but…” Harvey turned to his father, now standing near the wall bearing the medals he and three generations of Millhouses got in previous wars, along with proud pictures of them in uniform. “Dad! What the hell did you do?”
“Your father worked hard to get you a real opportunity,” Harvey’s Mom explained, with admiration for her husband, and disappointment for her son.
“Which I’m sure you will take,” Mild Bill Millhouse added. “To honor your Grandfather, on my side of the family. Who died for his country.”
“And my Grandfather on YOUR side of the family, Mom?” Harvey growled out. “The crazier than Crazy Horse Mohawk Indian you say ‘checked himself out’ of the real world? And is still ‘hanging around in it’ somewhere in the land of the living because he DIDN’T go to War for the rich Palefaces in Washington?”
Harvey’s mother’s half-Mohawk and half-Irish face turned pale white, her eyes staring at something behind them, her quivering lips unable to voice what was making them tremble.
“What did you NOT say again, Mom?” Harvey pressed, driven by pure primal rage. “About the cookoo in the head but smart in soul builder of the cookoo clock that you insist stay in my room? That keeps me up night after night having nightmares about…”
Harvey’s rant, and discourse, was quenched into guilt-ridden silence by his mother’s tears, streaming down her face. His attempts to say ‘I’m sorry’ in action and words were halted by her pushing him away, into the wall, then directly into the line of Sergeant Brenda’s penetrating stare.
“It’s the Lord’s Commandments,” she reminded Harvey. “Honor your mother and father.” Hearing a honk outside, she looked at her watch, then signaled to her driver outside to wait. “My car is waiting, Lieutenant Harvey, Sir. I can give you a ride, if you—“
“—-Grandpa Thundercloud really was cookoo for Cocoa Puffs,” Harvey explained to Brenda as his mother sought comfort in the arms her finally, freely and openly loving husband. “Or, no, in words that are just as witty, cool, clever and marketable as anyone else’s….” Turning to the nosy, stimulus-starved and chronically-ridiculing suburban neighbors who were looking on from their open windows or hidden positions behind the bushes, Harvey continued. “My Grandpa was one of the wackos who didn’t fly out of the cookoo’s nest. A permanent resident of Strawberry Fields. Redskin mystic who had an American Express Peyote gold card. Future teller Sage who didn’t remember what he pout in his magic mushroom omelet for breakfast. Who abandoned all of us when the Mother Ship came and—”
“Don’t listen to him, Mother,” Harvey’s Dad said to his sobbing wife. “Harvey is—“
“—Not going to take shit, be laughed at or swept aside as inferior garbage by anyone.“
“Who can go to hell!” Harvey heard from his God fearing mother, whose mouth never uttered a curse word in her life, at least when he was around. “You God-damned bastard, you can go straight to fucking hell!”
“War is hell, Ma,” Harvey reminded her, stepping inside the house.
“Just go!” Dad yelled into his face, appended by a push out the door, then a boot in the ass.
“To Canada!” Harvey blasted back at the door as it was slammed into his face. “I’ll go to Canada!”
“Fine,” Mild Bill Millhouse yelled back from inside as he ran upstairs. “Dress warm!” he yelled out the window of Harvey’s room, after which he tossed his son’s belongings out onto the front yard.
“Yeah!” Harvey yelled back, infused with pride and confidence. “I’ll become a Canadian, aye?” the sheltered suburban 19 year old who had never been anywhere West of Philadelphia or North of Albany proclaimed. “Learn to play hockey, dog sled to work every day, eat maple syrup raw from a tree that I carve oven with my teeth. Mate with an Eskimo and build a cabin in the middle of downtown Toronto. Ride a horse to Saskatchewan, home of the Saskquatch. Yes, I will be Canadian.”
“No, you won’t,” Brenda informed him in mid rant, as a caring human being rather than a Sergeant, or a seductress. “You’re not brave or destructive enough.” She gently inserted into his pocket a duplicate envelope to the one he had trashed. “Fort Dix for the Army on Tuesday. Or the Marines or Navy on Monday. Sergeant Millhouse.” With that she saluted him as a colleague, comrade and friend, then got into the car parked on the street and disappeared into the smoggy, humidity filled morning horizon. Harvey turned around, gazing at the last of his belongings as they landed on the grass. He loaded them onto the sled bearing rusted out wheels which was amongst them which he had built as a kid, fashioned some of the rope which was around it into a harness, put it around his neck and sojourned North. “Mush!” he barked at himself.
“And more mush,” Old Harvey said while gazing at the food presented to him by JW’s assistant, and thus far confident, Officer Anna McGilvry. “This tastes familiar,” the old man, psych patient and involuntary refugee from justice said to his server as he took a cautious first bite. “Oats, artificial honey, sugar, aroma de cardboard box, essence of plastique wrapping. And maybe a little hemlock you put in just for me?” Old Harvey continued, indulging in a second spoonful of the gruel which filled all rather than a small portion of the rusted out, bent, burnt and blood tinged bowl it was served in. He then turned to JW. “Special request I made with her during a one way Socratic discourse, Doc,” the former manager of the now condemned and un-buyable hotel related by way of explanation. “Go ahead, give the too good to be Alive Doc the Cliff notes, ‘Officer’,” he said to McGilvry with a friendly and seductive wink of the eye, after which he dug in for more biological sustenance.
Twenty-five year old Anna shrugged her shoulders as JW asked her to explain what the 75 going on 7,000, or perhaps 7, year old man meant by any of what he said.
“Good diagnosis there, Doc,” Old Harvey said to young, biologically anyway, JW. “Better that Officer Anna here doesn’t discover who she was last lifetime when she workd for me, with me and over me.”
“And who is, or was, she?” JW inquired as he sat down across from Harvey, smelling the gruel Officer McGilvry had put together from the supplies in the kitchen of the abandoned ghost town hotel.
“Wanda, of course,” Old Harvey said with pride and joy, as he seemed to be gazing at Officer McGilvry’s long, red hair, still tied up in a tight bun, and admiring her vuluptious anatomy, despite the fact that her uniform still did everything to hide every aesthetically beautiful feature of it.
“I’m not Wanda, Mister Millhouse,” Officer Anna barked back as she headed back to the kitchen to get something for herself and JW to eat.
“Which is a coincidence,” Old Harvey smiled like he was a life infused Young Harvey. “Wanda wasn’t Wanda either, till we both got here.”
“From where?” JW asked, taking out his notepad.
Old Harvey wiped his chin, patted his finally full belly, then leaned back on the chair. “An outpost, two days’ walk outside the Northern Border of civilization,” he proclaimed in the manner of an Ancient story teller sharing a magical tale with an audience of thousands. “The Bronx Westchester border that is,” he said while pressing in towards JW, very personally. “The outpost’s name, Pleasantville.” Leaning back again, he seemed to address ghosts who came into the room, for free admission of course. “Near Valhalla!” Addressing JW again, he continued. “Not the real Valhalla. The fake one. Where you went to medical school, Doc. New York Medical College.”
“How did you know I—?” JW observed slurring out of his dropped lip, from a recently institutionalized old coot who had no way of knowing anything about his education, or life.
“When you get old, you can’t do shit,” Harvey explained to JW. “But you get to know a lot. Which of course, I didn’t know when I was a little shit,” he continued to his favorite audience member. “No shit!” he proclaimed and confessed to the (to JW anyway) imaginary attendees of the multi-directional discourse.
Before JW could ask what Old Harvey was seeing, feeling and hearing, he pointed to the tape recorder. “Reel Two,” the old man commanded of the younger one.
The hastily encrypted writing on the Gravestone at the Cemetery in Valhalla read Harvey Millhouse: Visionary, 1950-1970. The man who interned young Harvey into the grave then marked the site where his end would be noted bore a long white, hair that flowed down to his shoulders and a beard that extended all the way to the breast pocket of the lumberjack shirt on his crouched back. He hoped the sirens from the police cars behind him on the road were for someone else, though he know, and hoped, that one day they would be for him. The Old Man hoped that no one would notice what he had done, and who he really was. But a visitor on horseback did. She was clad in leather fringed chaps and a jean jacket bearing Peace, Love and Revolution buttons with slogans the Old Man didn’t recognize, but which made well beyond perfect sense.
“What you are doing here, friend?” a young woman with long red hair in blowing freely in the wind asked him in a Russian accent.
“Burying my grandson, Missy,” the Old Man said, averting his eyes, with a gravely voice that he hoped would not resemble his own. Young Harvey then put a picture of himself on the tombstone as he went on with the explanation that, no doubt, the young, vibrant and attractive horsewoman whose no doubt required before she went on her way. “Harvey Millhouse. Who in a more enlightened time would be THE Harvey Millhouse. I sent a copy of the tragic accident report to the Valhalla Gazette, along with a eulogy they’re gonna print.”
“And this eulogy says?” the Russian horsewoman asked in a demeaner that reeked of someone who is scholarly in many languages.
Thinking in his under-appreciated brain and knowing in his terrified heart that this female Taras Bulba would understand the contents, Harvey stood up and reached into his overstuffed backpack. He retrieved one of five neatly wrapped piles of notes and manuscripts, labeled ‘Harvey’s Complaints and Suggestions’. He handed it to the young woman he instantly had the hots for, pretending to have the tremor of an old man who was well beyond having the hots for anyone. She looked at them with interest, as he explained. “The eulogy said that Harvey was a lad, not a man, well ahead of his time. Who wrote stories, did drawings, and composed some music that’s gonna discovered by the world very soon. And distributed by me and, maybe you? Who are…?”
“Wanda Elseberg,” the Russian hippie scholar replied. “Working at…” She reached into her breast pocket, retrieving a business card which she handed to Harvey.
“The Valhalla Gazette,” he read, as he felt his jaw drop, then the beard attached to it become loosened.
“As journalist hired to write fact, not fiction, Harvey,” she explained, in a firm but not yet condescending or authorative voice.
“How…How…eh….did you…eh…know?” Old Harvey asked her as himself, young Harvey, who had just recently overcome stuttering and now had the ‘eh’ problems whenever he spoke to someone of power and influence.
With a smile that conveyed pity, and perhaps some empathy, Wanda pointed to Harvey’s novelty store flopping beard, just is was about to be blown into the bush to become part of a bird’s nest. Meanwhile, another Cop car approached the Cemetery, coming to slow stop. The officer inside got out and waved hello to Wanda, throwing her two apples. She caught both of them, dismounted, gave one to the horse, and kept the other one for herself.
“Thanks for lunch, from me and Sigfried here,” she said to the Cop in accentless American English. “I’ll see you back at the shop, at three?” With that, the Cop got back in his car and went on his way.
“Are you a Cop?” Harvey asked the horsewoman. “A mountie Cop? A…Canadian undercover Mountie Cop?” he continued, fearing the worst regarding his unilateral decision to re-establish life for himself as a Canuk.
“No,” Wanda explained with gentle, life-tested humanity in her voice. “Just someone trying to take a break from being who I’m supposed to be,” she continued with her Slavic accent, petting her horse, and giving him the second apple. “So I can, once day, for more than an hour, who I am.”
“And who is that?” Harvey asked, from the depths of his soul, eager for and terrified of the answer.
“Someone who…maybe wants to disappear into that,” she said, looking at and into the wooded hills to the North, behind which were mounds of thickly forested earth that could pass for mountains. “Which require, for both of our entry, a different kind of transportation to enter,” she continued, contemplating a new plan, or a revision of an old one. “Along with a change in wardrobe for me and…especially you,” she said, eying Harvey from head to toe, then back again.
‘North’ was always a direction Harvey imagined would be his final destiny, in his childhood Nordic aspirations and later on, adult fantasies. Indeed, most everyone in the New York City Metro region, even the ‘hearty Jerseyities’, figured that anything North of Westchester County was populated by more bears than people, and whatever people there were Indians or snowshoers. But no one bothered you up North, and everyone respected you for going there, and, eventually, would admire the work you did there, as well as the Works you left behind. In his ideations, some of which made it to print in his novels, poems and songs, Harvey envisioned heading north to a bold new life, with a fine horse and a hearty woman. One thing he didn’t envision was going as her wife.
“Straighten out the stuffing in your bra, keep your legs together and for Goddess’ sake, smile, Harriette,!” Wanda, clad in a short haired wig, convincing mustache, lumber jack shirt, and cowboy boots grunted to Harvey. “We’re supposed to be happily interconnected. And we’re about to reach the Canadian border, where—-”
“—I know, the American border guards want to take a look at who’s leaving their country,” Harvey replied as he saw through the false eyelashes and mascara an American Border Agent. Waving his overly tattoed arm, he requested the truck carting Harvey, Wanda and, in the trailer behind them, the Russian bombshell’s steed, Siegfried, to stop.
As the bubba bellied Yankee agent swaggered towards the truck, Wanda turned the radio dial from the classical musical station to one blaring out good ole boy Country Western, opened the window and spit into the ash tray with the accuracy of a seasoned spittoon spitting champion. Meanwhile, Harvey adjusted the pencil skirt covering his recently shaved legs, feeling the pinch of the high heels on his feet, then pushed the long bangs on his waist-long blonde wig over his eyebrows.
“If anyone asks, we’re on our honeymoon,” Wanda said, in a deep Redneck American male voice, completely devoid of any European diction. She put a wedding ring on her fourth finger, throwing one to Harvey to put on the freshly nail polished digit on his now hairless hand.
“Sure,” Harvey said to the woman who was three skills ahead of every ability he surmised that she secretly had. “But they’re sure to find out I’m a guy,” he continued, hearing the maleness in his ‘little woman’ voice, no matter how hard he tried to elevate the octave or soften the tone.
“Who looks really fine in a dress,” ‘Redneck Wanda’ continued, eyeing Harvey up and down with delight, approval and whimpsy. “Who—“
“—Will be sent back home and drafted into the Army when that American guard, who looks just like my father, see who and what I am,” Harvey said through quivering lips as two US Army MPs emerged from their coffee break in the trailer, joining the American border guard.
“Or be classified as unacceptable to be drafted,” she whispered softly in a Russian accent, which Harvey surmised, perhaps rightly or wrongly, was real. “Particularly if you smile and convince them that you really like this transgender adventure. Is a win-win situation, yes?”
“And when we get to the Canadian side?” Harvey inquired.
“We switch back inta bein’ who we is,” ‘Redneck Wanda answered, appended with a manly belch and fart. “OR who we really wants to be. Or…”
Wanda’s performance was interrupted by the American Border Guard knocking on the truck window. He motioned for her to roll down the window. “ID’s please,” he requested in a voice that was more of a grunt, the two MPs towering behind the, now seen to be, short but very muscular monitor of who is leaving his beloved country.
Wanda showed the Guard her ID, her mustache and clenched lips hiding any emotion. After approving the authenticity of the masterfully forged document, the Guard looked at Harvey. “And you, Miss,” he said with a bow, offering a warm, friendly and inviting smile. Harvey smiled back, hiding his hands, self observing that a flirtatious non verbal conversation between him and the guard was afoot.
Wanda looked to the side, ignoring the whole thing, leaving Harvey to his own devices in a game that she originally suggested. But the game was halted when the Guard said to Harvey. “Whatever yer thinking there, Miss. I’d like to..but…I’m just married,” he said apologetically, showing Harvey the band on his wedding ring finger.
“So is she,” Wanda added, taking Harvey’s hand into hers, kissing it tenderly. “Right babe?”
“Very right,” Harvey observed coming over the lipstick on his lips, feeling something Ancient and loving between him and Wanda. It seemed scary, then…inevitable as Harvey looked into Wanda’s eyes, getting lost in them. As, so it seemed, she got lost in his.
The Guard cleared his throat, then handed back the ID’s. “Eh kids…you’ll need these. And,” he continued, as big, yet sorrowful smile took over his face. “Have a good honeymoon. A better one than I did anyway.’
“We will,” Wanda replied, turning on the engine.
“Yes, Sir,” Harvey replied, thankful that he would not have to address anyone from a uniform with that form of address. A form of address he refused to give his ex-military but not yet discharged in his heart father as well, no matter how bad a whooping he could get, or wanted to avoid.
The happy, relieved and united couple drove slowly past a sign reading ‘Welcome to Canada’. They stopped at the booth. A thirty going on sixty, not unattractive Canadian Customs Official came out. By the way she carried her weary eyes and unenthusiastic stride, she seemed to be a cynical woman, who seemed less foolable than any American Cop, by the vib she gave out. She asked for their IDs.
“Recently married,” ‘hubby’ Wanda said, with an emotionless voice, more generic country than Redneck American.
“Happily,” ‘wife’ Harvey added, feeling the truth of that statement down to the Core.
From the corner of his over-made-up right eye, Harvey noted that the Official in the friendly looking uniform from the friendly neighbor to the north stared at, then into the documentation presented to her, then at the presenters. But from Harvey’s left eye, he noted Wanda, terror overtaking her eyes, a mild shake in her hand about to turn into a fearful tremor. He gently put his hand on Wanda’s, assuring her that whatever she was scared of, would not materialize.
“Yes, we’re very happily…bonded, no matter what life has in store for us,” Wanda said, and meant, revealing the truth of that matter with her now assured eyes.
“Enjoy it while it lasts,” the female Border Guard bearing the Maple Leaf rather than Stars and Stripes on her coat said while glancing at, and through, the forged documents.
“At Mississuaga Wilderness Park,” Wanda added. “Owned and operated finally by the Indians.”
“Who like to be called First Nations people up here,” the Canuk lady mountie said by way of reminder, and warning.
“With my papered and vaccinated horse,” Wanda continued, handing over the documentation.
“OUR horse,” Harvey assertively reminded ‘loving husband’ Wanda.
“Indeed yes,” the Inspector smiled, as if proud of what her fellow recently married ‘sister’ proclaimed, and how she did so. The Inspector then peaked into the trailer, noting that indeed the horse was there. The steed greeted her. She said hello back to the animal by taking a cookie out of her pocket and giving it to Siegfried. “Welcome to Canada,” she said after the horse blurted out a thank you knicker. “All of you,” she said with a welcoming tone and a warm smile that Harvey found himself trusting.
The newly married couple did have a honeymoon, at the Big Bear Motel, midway between Niagra Falls and Toronto. The rooms were as rustic as they would have been for a Guest bear, or rather Cub. But the establishment was named after a defiant Cree Indian rebel from Western Canada, owned by a local Indian band that had a name Harvey recognized from the days when Grandpa Thundercloud would talk about the way contemporary ‘Injun’ life really was, and should be to him before his departure from civilization and perhaps life eight years ago. There was a sharp difference between them for reasons the Old Man didn’t understand, and, to be fair, pre-teen Harvey wasn’t all that hot at wanting to know.
But there was one thing that almost done with teenage Harvey did know as he emerged from the shower, washing off the residual female make up from his face, and Wanda’s vaginal secretions from his crotch. His mind and soul were in a different place after sharing a horizon-less universe with Wanda the night before. And getting some real sleep, without being woken up by nightmares about how inferior he was to everyone, condescending comments from his parents across the walls and, most importantly, ‘Mister Cookoo’ on the wall, coming out of his ticking box on a time table that could not be changed, not by Harvey anyway.
But there was one question Harvey did have about Wanda that he felt should would, and should answer. “So, Wanda Elseberg,” he said to her while she sat at the eating table in the room, converting it into a writing desk. The article she had just written was entitled ‘Keeping the Revolution Real’, a Russian version of most probably the same thing next to it. “Elseberg,” Harvey asked, reading the byline. “A German name, but you—“
“—Go by whatever name I have to in order to be heard, and survive,” the woman who was so lovingly tender and playful three hours earlier replied in a terse, preoccupied business-like manner, after which set to writing another article, starting this one in Russian.
Surmising that she didn’t want to be disturbed, and sensing that the consequences of doing such would involve more than a no nonsense ‘fuck off’ stare, he glanced at the travel bag. Inside were new passports, for her and Harvey, which she had forged apparently during the three hours when he was sound asleep
“We all do what we have to do, be who we have to be,” Wanda replied by way of non-answer to Harvey’s unspoken question, yet again. “But what we are is…”
“—Together,” Harvey said, feeling the pain in Wanda’s soul, reading somehow the fear going through her ever active, and chronically dreaming, mind. He gently stroked her neck. “Connected,” he continued. “Like we were last night.”
Before Harvey could give voice to the words that he had worked so hard to feel, and felt so easy to say, she pulled away, covering the writing with a turned back.
“Or maybe we weren’t so…connected,” Harvey felt, and gave voice to.
“We were,” Wanda replied with a turned back. “And still are,” she continued, affording him a brief look into her preoccupied yet truthful eyes, then focusing on the literary, or perhaps criminally prosecutable, Mission at hand.
“But?” Harvey blurted out as he threw the towel on the bathroom floor. He grabbed hold of his jeans and pushed two angry feet into them. “There’s always a ‘but’ when something good happens to me.”
“Yes,” Wanda acknowledged. “For me too, but…”
“But what?” Harvey challenged, placing himself in front of Wanda. He put his hand on the Manifesto, manifest and/or report to fellow criminal she was writing, staring into her troubled face. “Whatever it is, you can tell me. It’s just you and me here,” he informed, reminded and assured her.
Just as Wanda’s trembling lips were about to give voice to words, there was a knock on the door. “Housekeeping,” the hotel worker said in an apologetic, subservient tone.
“Right,” Wanda replied, sarcastically. She abruptly grabbed for the travel bag, succeeding only in spilling its contents all over the floor. With the utmost sense of urgency she put the contents back into the bag. While helping her do so, Harvey noted even more passports bearing her photo, stacks of money from countries he didn’t recognized and a few sealed hefty bags of weed, with a potent aroma Harvey had never experienced that penetrated through the small holes the spill had created.
Meanwhile, the Housekeeper announced her presence in French, Spanish and some kind of language that sounded ‘Injun’.
Wanda grabbed hold of weed, enveloped it in a second bag and put it inside her bra, closing her blouse around it with shaking hands.
“Hey,” Harvey said with an assuring smile as the Housekeeper knocked on the door again, announcing her presence in Spanish, French then some kind of language that was probably an Injun tongue. “Just because everyone’s out to get you is no reason to be paranoid. Maybe they can’t read the Please Do Not Disturb sign on the door they legally aren’t allowed to open without permission. Or if fell off, or—”
Harvey’s assurance, projection and pledge was short circuited by a click of a key, then the door opening, slowly. He rushed to the door, seeing a cleaning cart behind it. Overcome by something called courage, intelligence, or maybe both, he briskly walked towards the door, opening it up for the staff member. “We tried to not dirty the sheets, but…no mess, no merriment, right?” he assured the short, hunchbacked old before her time First Nations housekeeper as she entered the room with her cart. He reached into his pocket for money as a tip, just as she noted the disarray he and Wanda had converted the clean and tidy room into. A room from which Wanda, and most of her belongings, including the horse that had been munching grass outside, was absent. “We had a wild time here late night,” he said as the Maid began gathering the dirty linen and towels. “No drugs, or drink, at my request,” he related, in all truthfulness. “But lots of rock and role between the ears, and the sex.”
“Sex with this woman?” inquired a sun-glassed man in a black suit and black shoes with an American and Canadian flag on his lapel inquired in a very official tone bearing a picture of a very official looking woman who appeared behind the Housekeeper. As he removed his shades, Harvey noticed high cheekbones to his clean shaven face, his long black hair tied tightly back in a pony tail.
‘White Honky Inspector Tonto’ moved the photo closer to Harvey’s disbelieving eyes. Within the faded black and white pic that felt like a cold, impersonal grey, he recognized Wanda. She was clad in bland, featureless clothing which would be worn by an inmate in jail, as he recalled from TV specials, or an involuntary guest in a nuthouse, as he remembered from his last visits to Grandpa Thundercloud. “Did you have sex with this woman?” the Injun ‘suit’ requested again in officialeze.
“With eh..someone that didn’t look like her at all,” Harvey replied, partially lying and partially telling the truth. “But with someone who got me inspired to get my life moving forward again, aye?” he continued in his best Canadian. “And you are?”
“Ross Cuthand,” the fully assimilated Indian gentleman replied as he sniffed the stagnant air in the room which still had its curtains drawn. It led him to remnants of the weed Wanda had left on the floor during her exit. “Powerful weed,” he noted, with admiration.
“Which I don’t know anything aboot, aye?” Harvey replied, preparing to relate stories about growing up in Ontario which were revised after rehearsing them with Wanda.
Cuthand’s snooping led him to the dress, bra, and heels under the bed with which Harvey had entered the country. “Size large,” he noted, after which he motioned for the smiling Maid to leave, which she did without incidence of comment. “As I was saying, about this attire. Size large.”
“From the big, really big, mystery woman who was here with me last night, by mutual consent, and without me paying her anything!” Harvey announced, most proud of the latter statement. “And if ya can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with, who inspires you in the eternal now, aye?”
“So how did she inspire you, ‘aye’?” Cuthand pressed, mocking Harvey’s bad and artificially constructed Canuk dialog, and probably inaccurate rhythm of speech as well, something that Wanda said he would have to work on, along with taking the ‘New Yawk’ out of his diction. “And what did you do before she inspired you, bein’ a Jersey dude?” he continued with an accent Native to Harvey’s old neighborhood.
“Like every other idealistic dreamer, I formed my own Revolution Movement,” Harvey said, as himself, lightheartedly, surmising that Cuthand was after something far more injurious to Canada than New Jersey draft dodgers, perhaps. “Good news, I got lots of members in the movement. Bad news, they were all imaginary. Worse news—“
“—-They voted you out,” Cuthand interjected, with a dispassionate tone that not only predicted Harvey’s punchline, but ‘boo’d’ him off the stage he had put himself on.
“How did you… know?” Harvey inquired regarding the joke that he THOUGHT came out of his own head, heart and soul, and not something he had unconsciously stolen from an established comic.
Cuthand pulled out from his briefcase one of Harvey’s promotional ‘literary’ bundles. “You left this at the diner you stopped at,” he said by way of explanation as he inspected the rest of the room, taking pictures with his pocket camera, relating nothing about what he was looking for, or what he was going to do about it. “Left it with the waitress who was working her way through school to be a literary agent. Who was also working for us.”
“And ‘us’ is?” Harvey asked, demanding from his lowly position a reply from someone who was obviously higher on the totem pole, and social ladder.
“No one who wants to bring you back to America, to join the Army,” Cuthand assured Harvey. “My word of honor on that.”
“Thank you!” Harvey said to the Big Man on the other side of the hotel room roof with hands folded in prayer. “Who or Whatever you are!”
“No,” Cuthand interjected in the middle of Harvey’s discovery of gratitude and/or the Creator who made such possible. “You’re someone else’s problem now, ‘Maestro Millhouse.” He stared directly into Harvey’s terrified eyed. “Your grandfather, who finally died. Thankfully for everyone, including him,” he continued addressing the same God Harvey had just been addressing.
Cuthand opened his briefcase, retrieving an envelope, which he held out for Harvey to take. He added to it a business card from his very filled wallet. “I’m the executor of his Will, Great Spirit help me!” Cuthand related, with the same kind of ‘hey I’m doing the best I can but it’s never enough’ tone in his voice that Harvey heard from himself, and very, very few others. “And you, Harvey Millhouse, get to inherit his mountain that your grandpa ‘legally’, without the band’s permission or knowledge, bought here in Canada. The Hotel at its base and…this.”
Cuthand reached behind his briefcase, opening a sealed box. From it he carefully pulled out the last thing Harvey thought he would ever see, or hear, after his heroic, and desperate, flee from his homeland. “This must remain, activated at all times, with you at the hotel,” Cuthand announced, after which he removed a picture of the herd of wild horses from the wall replacing it with the clock.
“Within hearing range of me when I’m doing hotel business or in the huya aniya after hours,” Harvey read from the Will. “What’s the huya aniya?” he inquired of Cuthand.
Cuthand took in a deep breath, visited a place deep within himself, then gave voice to the reply with smile that was both reassuring and scary. “The spirit world. ‘dream sleepy time’ to you Palefaces. Where what you do directly impacts and changes the ‘real world’ when you’re ‘awake’. And vice versa. According to some anyway.”
“I don’t know,” Cuthand replied after a deep and secretive reflective pause. “But one thing you grandfather said before he passed on, was that Creative Madness and Passion happens only when you’re straight.”
“If you’re talking about that dress, bra and heels…”
Cuthand picked up Wanda’s abandoned weed, sniffing it with a strange blend of admiration, respect and curiosity. “I was talking about this. Which—-”
“I don’t use. Never have and never will!” Harvey asserted. “Despite what my father thinks and my mother fears. But…what am I supposed to do with a hotel at the base of a mountain?” he looked at the map displaying the location of the facility, noting an absences of roads and lots of green on it. “Way up in the sticks? Even by Canadian standards?” the New Jersey, very non-wilderness homeboy who had never been West of Phili and North of Albany gasped.
“You’re one quarter Mohawk,” Cuthand replied with a proud smile, laying his assuring, bear like hand on Harveys narrow, shaking shoulders. “You’ll figure it out.”
“And if I can’t?” Harvey asked.
Cuthand removed his hand from Harvey’s shoulder and the smile from his mug. “Then because you’re three quarters White and eight quarters ‘all mouth and no ears New Yawker’,” he continued as he closed his briefcase and carried it towards the door. “You’ll die at the hands of the Spirits,” he informed Harvey with deadly seriousness, facing him for what felt to be the last time. “Or just boredom,” he said with a playful smile.
“Yeah,” Harvey said, his neck flexed downward, his hands holding the legal papers which will inevitably would lead him to his most feared and aspired to destiny—uncertainty.
“Moseltof!” Cuthand announced with his back turned as his last word on the matter.
Harvey gazed at the cookoo clock, addressing its inhabitant. “Not one word out of you!” he commanded its avian inhabitant. “This whole thing is—-“
“Cookoo,” the bird interjected, ten times, each auscultation of that state of mind reminding Harvey that he had jumped off a cliff and had to learn how to fly, very fast.
“And then?” JW asked Old Harvey as the aged but certainly not ready to die, not on anyone else’s terms anyway, old coot stared at the South Wall the hotel. “Did you learn to fly?” the young Doctor subtly pressed, eager for any answer. Be it be from the Huya Aniya Millhouse seemed to be slipping into, or the ‘real world’ realm which required JW to find out what really happened at hotel which had been abandoned by its guests 40 years earlier, and by every one of its buyers since. Buyers who themselves had disappeared from the realm of ‘reality’, due to unexplained suicides or walkabouts they never told their relatives or real estate agents about. “The answers will stay between us, or go to anyone you want to know them,” JW pledged with his best poker face.
Old Harvey dived deeper into silence. But the wind was anything but quiet, expressing its ideas and ideals through a howl that found its way through the cracks in the window that finally gave way, splattering glass all over the floor. With a full component of woodwind, string and percussion instruments, it echoed a symphony into JW’s ears that he could not understand, or define. As for the visual component of this Off Its Rocker Opera, characters appeared on the stage in the poorly lit room. Or so JW could feel anyway.
He waited to see if the un-seeable orbs would speak. According to the research JW had done, without the knowledge of his fellow psychiatrists yet in the service of a few of his special patients, it was time for White Noise to appear. That low volume ‘talk radio’ chatter with words you can’t make out which is spoken by the dead who still linger in the place where their bodies and souls decided to go into different directions. The kind of talk that, if you try to decipher it with electrical devices made by ‘smart’ people or biological sensors owned by any biped bearing 46 chromosomes, will drive you mad yourself.
But it wasn’t the White Noise that JW heard that concerned him now. Or the un-seeable orb that seemed to illuminate the walls, morphing into unrecognizable faces that seemed to be familiar. No, these were imaginations which took over a man, or woman’s, consciousness through the power of suggestion. Or the influence of psychoactive drugs lingering in the air, perhaps emanating the elevating aroma in the room that JW didn’t recognize. But there was one thing that the young scientific investigator needed to know if he was to go back home to his Departmental Chairman at NYU as hero rather than a failure. Or be able to go home to Thanksgiving Dinner at Martha’s Vineyard as someone worthy to eat with his overly accomplished family rather than a listener who was obligated to hear THEIR tales of professional success and social conquest.
Just as one of the orbs turned into a face that JW recognized as his own, he reached above the ‘bed’ which consisted of a door laid on four large logs with a blood stained mattress over it and turned on the radio. It was an antique by anyone’s standards, with an antenna still attached. It blared out loud static. “Let me see if I can get something else on it,” JW said to himself, and Old Harvey, as he tried to adjust the dial, to get ANY station within range. Avoiding, of course, the news reports which kept reporting the escape of a dangerous mental patient from NYU’s downstate facility who somehow had made it across the Canadian border. “Come on,” JW said, desperately searching the dial for anything besides static. Even CBC radio, which never played any of the edgy classical music selections that NPR broadcasters sent over the airways back across the line in Upstate New York and which reported news with absolutely no colorful opinion, or emotion. Or, failing that, one of those Canuk all-weather-all-the-time broadcasters. Anything but static. “When I find something you like, let me know,” JW said to Harvey to get him talking, and the bodiless ghosts in his mind that he wanted to shut up.
“No, static is fine,” Old Harvey said, finally breaking his silence, along with the locked position of his lips, which now turned upward. “It helped me get up here. And insured that I stayed,” he explained, after which he pointed to the tape recorder.
Unlike North American born Grandpa Thundercloud, Harvey’s paternal Great Grandad came to America as a refugee from Bavaria with ‘Five dollars in his pocket’ that he turned into five thousand dollars after a year of hard work as a coal miner in rural Pennsylvania then believing in a magnificent destiny when left the mine and sojourned to Philadelphia, after which he worked even harder. In a business he never talked about, particularly when retired Cops came around. It was an improbable legend that inspired Harvey as a kid, and he now needed to believe as an adult. Particularly after he spent his last ‘start a life in Canada’ money on a used Lincoln Cadillac at the Red Cloud Used Car Lot. It was run by the honest Injun dealer, who was personally recommended by Ross Cuthand.
Everything in the Caddy worked well, and to the standards guaranteed by the Jack ‘Straight Talk’ Mooseman. Except for some minor problems with the muffler that decided to get more vocal with each mile. And the shocks which Harvey thought he was being kind to on the washboard roads and the radiator, which didn’t register hot as long as he kept going, real fast. And the radiator that worked as long as you kept driving fast, and as Harvey didn’t know about till he was well beyond any gas station on the way to the Mountain and hotel willed to him. But the spare tire held, which (unlike his Native Grandpa) mechanically-declined Harvey had put on fifty miles past the last service station on the road heading North. And the radio worked, allowing Harvey to put it on really loud so he could drowned out the rumbling of the motor that still kept moving forward, the thumping from under the hood, the beating of Harvey’s own terrified heart, and the wind from woods that now had no man made structure within or around them. Loud static worked best to allow denial to be the cure for of the automotive problems, particularly when the last vestiges of CBC radio vanished into it. So as to not have accompaniment that was undesired, and unneeded, Harvey taped and nailed shut the door of the cookoo clock.
After Harvey sang way too many verses of ‘Everything is alright, out of sight’ to the accompaniment of static on the radio, that transmission device crapped out, sparked by a bolt of lightning from a cloudless sky that hit the antenna. He swerved to the right, then onto a turn off. The car came to an abrupt halt, then surrendered the rear axel to the ground, thanks to a ditch that seemed to be hidden under strange looking tree branches and woven grass. Ahead of him was a sign in front of a wooded road that looked more like a extended cattle path than something anything on wheels had ever been through. “Olympic Heights: New World Home of the gods, and mortals seeking to become more human than them.” Population: Potentially Infinite. He checked the map and, indeed he was at the right place, according to the paper anyway. He checked the smoke-emitting car, noting that the bulge in the right front tire had grown from the size of a golf ball, to a football, which popped open when he touched it.
Greeting him was a man in a shabby philosopher robe, sandals, long white beard and kind eyes. Though his frail, age-spot covered body looked like it was ready for the rocking chair, or the grave, he had a spring in his step and fire in his eyes. “And who are you?” Harvey inquired of him.
“Cookoo?” the wooden cookoo bird suggested with an upturned tone on that word, after it finally broke through the door on its house that Harvey had shut closed.
“To some, maybe,” the Old Philosopher said in a Greek accent. “But are not all crazy who seek to become more than who they are, or who are assigned to be, is that not so?”
“Yeah, maybe, but—” Harvey replied.
“—And if one sees the Light that is the Sun outside of a Cave,” the ‘Professor’ kindly interjected in the classroom Harvey found himself locked into. “And if his fellows who have never left the cave, believe that the only light that exists is the fire in that cave, reality being the shadows of themselves on the wall, are they not infirmed, defective and, as the crazy would say, insane, is that not so?”
“True enough,” Harvey interjected. “But—“ he continued, pointing to his car. “But I don’t have time as I have—-“
“—Arrived, just in time,” the Old Man said with a big, all knowing smile, the kind that was so sincere, Harvey knew he should trust it. “Because life delivered you here, is that not so?”
“And you’re someone who wants to introduce himself to me, because in whatever trip you’re in, it involves bringing me into it, is that not so?” Harvey replied, recalling how the Ancient Greeks, and contemporary under-achieved high school teachers who fancied themselves tenured College professors, ‘instructed’ their students with questions that already had answers to them. “And you do want and need to reveal who you really are, beneath the deceptions we all take on, is that not so?” ‘Professor’ Harvey pressed.
“This lifetime, Nick,” the old Greek related, with regret. “But in other lifetimes?” he continued with a joyful grin. After which he pulled a mirror out from under his torn up robe and flashed it into Harvey’s face.
“A mirror salesman? For the Socratic Glass Company?” Harvey replied. “Who wants me to—“
“—Look into the mirror. Until you are scared, then bored, then informed, then enlightened,” the Old Man instructed Harvey to do. “While I help you with your things.”
“Because?” Harvey asked as he noted the frail, 98 pound ‘Socrates’ hauling out his prized belongings with the strength, and insensitivity, of a baggage handler at an airport, loading them onto a wagon he retrieved from the woods. Then gingerly took hold of the cookoo clock, securing it to his back like a baby into a papoose. All the while, pushing Harvey’s face into the mirror between loads, with the strength of his father and the determination of his mother. “I should just look into this mirror because!?” Harvey asked.
“If you look deep enough, you’ll see that the view isn’t so bad,” the confident reply. “And you’ll see—“
“—age spots, wrinkles and sagging chins put there by other people?” Harvey shot back, gently forcing the Old Man to look into his own reflection.
Upon doing so, discouragement overcame the reincarnated ‘Socrates’, whose wrinkled, potted, sagging face in the REAL world did bear the marks of being taxed beyond his limit to handle anything. “I don’t see any…”
Feeling the need to be kind to the crazy old man, as he knew that someday he would be one too, or maybe was one already, Harvey continued, recalling that Grandpa Thuundercloud had said that he had a ‘future and destiny caring for, and being transformed by crazy people’. “Maybe those wrinkles and sags were put there by a woman you should have dumped years, or in your case, millennia ago?” Shrink Harvey asked in as kind a voice as he could muster, given his own life dilemma.
The Old Philosopher’s face went through contortions that seemed to go through all the stages of grief which Harvey had read about, but never saw happen in such rapid succession. Shock, loss, anger, assessment then, finally, the action of realization. “My wife,” he finally related to his reflection, then Harvey. “Who said when I was Socrates that I was wasting time philosophizing and should settle down to become a stone mason.”
Harvey listened with a heart far more open than he thought it could be, feeling a talent growing inside himself, somehow.
“And found me again in THIS lifetime,” Socrates related as ‘Nick’, losing his Ancient Greek accent to adopt the diction and emotional tone of a common, working stiff, Brooklynite overtaken with regret. “Be a responsible, down to earth, feet on the ground not in the clouds bread earner, non-questioning, shit-eating citizen schlep, in a life—“ he ranted on
“—-You should have left rather than just examined?” Harvey offered.
“You’re right,” Nick said as he took off his Socrates robe, common boxers under it. “You’re goddamn right! I’m old,” he continued, beating his already mutilated left arm with a punishing blow from his right. “A failure. A has been who never was, who—“
“_–Could be great and is great,” Harvey said to the old man as he tried, futility, to prevent Nick from beating the Socrates out of him. “Make the anger work for you. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Creative Energy once created can’t be destroyed, right? And if the gods give you lemons, you turn it into lemonade, then sell it back to them at a profit that YOU keep, right?”
“Yes” Nick finally said, after exhausting himself. “Yes, yes” he kept saying to himself, again, as the memory, or ideation, of having been Socrates came back into his mind, soul and consciousness.
Neither Harvey’s lexicon of theoretical sayings assertion that that he was not one of Nick’s many abusive wives, nor his physical strength could deter the old man from giving him a severe beating. “Look! Nick. Socrates. Or whoever you are or want to be. I don’t want to ” Harvey grunted out with whatever wind that was not knocked out of him. “I’m not your ex-wives, a demon. I’m someone who wants to help you. Who can beat you into submission with one punch. But won’t. Even though I can. Really I can, and don’t want to, but—- “
The now expatriate New Jersey suburbanite who had never hit anyone except himself raised his hand up in a threatening fist, then heard a very ominous voice.
“Get away from him!” Wanda screamed, clad as an ancient Greek goddess, her breath reeking of both weed and non-pharmacologically-originated rage.
“Yeah, you crazy old man,” Harvey said to Nick, and Socrates within him.
“I was talking to YOU!” Wanda screamed into Harvey’s face as she pulled him away from the Socratic beating, pushing him into a tree, appending it with a kick in the belly with her sandaled feet.
“And why is it that when you’re hit, you don’t want to or can hit back!” Nick demanded to know, in a voice that sounded more Harvey’s father.
“Because I don’t want to!” Harvey explained.
“Or, Professor Socrates, he’s afraid to—-” Wanda suggested to the Old Coot.
“—Get hit?!” Harvey yelled out to the reincarnated Greek Philosopher, or mental patient, or both. “Fuck no, I’m not a coward!”
“Or he’s afraid that he’d enjoy hitting you, Professor Socrates,” Wanda intervened as the war of fists between the two men was about to escalate into unspoken accusations and uninvited surgical dissection of each other’s souls delivered through lasers in their eyes.
Nick thought about it, then finally answered, pulling away from primal psychological combat first. “Yes, goddess,” he said, in a Greek accent as Socrates again. “But remember that sometimes you gods from up there,” he continued, pointing to and looking at the snow capped mountain behind him. “You learned many times something from we mortals down here. You need as much as we need you, since.”
“Heaven watches, earth works,” a confident goddess Wanda and still non-empowered mortal Socrates said, in harmonic unison. After the montra had been stated, and absorbed, Wanda offered Nick a joint. He took in a healthy toke, feeling once again sure of himself and his ideals. Nick handed the joint back to Wanda, who offered it to Harvey.
“And this can change the rules of heaven and earth?” Harvey challenged.
“A Promethian answer,” Professor Nick said, as Socrates, after which he helped himself to another toke of the joint. “Where did you find this one?” he inquired of Wanda.
“We found each other,” her happy and stress-less reply, while staring into Harvey’s terrified face.
Again, Professor Nick offered the J to Harvey.
“No, thanks,” he replied, faking a cough. “I’m allergic.”
“To the nectar of the gods?” the very happily transformed but somehow not stoned old man inquired of the young one.
“To life, Professor Socrates, so it seems,” Wanda explained to Nick, while sizing up Harvey from yet another perspective. “But you esteemed mortals and we pathetically self-destructive gods do not need a soul-dead, procedural gate keeper around to keep the veil open.”
“Indeed,” Nick agreed. He walked away, his hand placed onto his chin in deep contemplation, muttering about something important in Greek, lost in his words. Before he could disappear into the woods to the left, a young women in a toga with a portable electric harp approached from the hotel at the end of the road, singing a Greek tune with a hip, cool and sincere rock beat. She smiled at Nick, inviting him to follow her back to the hotel. He did so, stopping him from accidently walking into a circle of rocks within what smelled like a quicksand-infested swamp which read ‘No Entry, until it IS your time’ in English and several other languages.
“So, what the fuck did you mean when you said I was a soul dead, procedural gate keeper, ‘goddess Wanda’?” Harvey challenged.
“Shhh!” she replied. “Not in front of the clients, patients or…their nurses,” she continued, inferring that the attractive young singing Oracle was the latter.
The ‘singing nurse’ led the muttering Greek Philosopher towards the hotel, answering his questions with music which led to a multi-modality conversation that seemed to serve both party’s needs, and wants.
“And what are YOU doing here?” Harvey asked Wanda when he was sure he could not be heard by the now ‘happy’ couple. She smiled, then led him down the road to the hotel, a wooden structure in the distance that seemed to get bigger the closer he got to it. “You hired me,” she explained. “Or will anyway. Past present and future are all an illusion, anyway. For a goddess or a mortal.”
“OK, goddess Natasha who took too many LSD trips into the Mooseberry bush,” Harvey replied, recalling Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons which had entertained the child in him and educated the adult that was emerging within as well. “But before I take one more step here. I want answers.”
“As you keep walking, without getting any answers,” her kind retort.
“Yeah!” Harvey replied, stopping his feet for good this time. “I declare that I’m not taking another step, till I get some answers!”
“Which are right here,” Wanda said, showing him the doorway to the hotel, nestled into trees above him.
It read “Olympia Hotel: Gateway to the Ancient Gods, Star Travelers, Angels, Spirit Helper and Rabbis you never tell anyone in Temple about back home.”
Below the sign, and on now all sides of him, Harvey beheld people from all periods of history, in pairs, speaking with each other in foreign languages. All of them happy and fulfilled. Teachers and students indistinguishable from each other. “The rabbis you never tell anyone in temple about?” he asked, refusing to take another riddle as an answer.
“Your grandfather knew that contemporary Jews aren’t the most expansively thinking metaphysicians, but they pay well, and after a toke of this,” Wanda said, giving Harvey another look, and smell, of the weed. “Even they listen to—“
From the top of the mountain directly behind the hotel bearing every religious and spiritual symbol Harvey knew, and some he didn’t, a burst of light shot up into the sky. Clouds moved in, which send down thunder, followed by rain that gently fell onto the hotel grounds. Such spawned a group ‘sing’ of a “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land,” with lyrics seemed to upgrade and honored the Woody Guthry song of old in a language that felt familiar in some places, foreign in others.
“A light show from a Tesla weather making machine?” Harvey advanced as he felt a gentle rain falling on his head. “Sending down water from clouds seeded with psychedelic coolaid?” he speculated, tasting something in the rain water he didn’t recognize. “And as for that tune,” he continued, gazing at the musical ensemble combining different tempos and harmonies in the catchiest of tunes.” A new money making commercial AM radio pop hit sound about a Revolution that’s isn’t Real?”
“But can be,” Wanda offered. “And will be!”
“Sung in Atlantian, right?”
“Esperanto,” Wanda pointed out.
“And that Woody Guthry original, translated, means…”
“You are here, and now, with nowhere else to go,” Wanda sung, along with the tune that evolved into a variety of melodies. “And if you try to go, the gods will say no!” she continued as Harvey tried to make a getaway.
Harvey’s attempt to walk away from the ‘destiny’ everyone seemed to be prescribing for his condition of being a dulled out suburban no-where man was halted by thunderbolts hitting him, blocking his escape. Terrified, he turned to Wanda.
“If we work together, we’ll turn this fantasy into—“ she replied, appending it with a gentle stroke of his shivering cheeks, then a kiss on his quivering lips.
“Okay,” Harvey replied, pulling away from a kiss that felt like it was an eternity of Bliss. “Deal accepted. But if this is a power cult. Or an ET-CIA coordinated invasion to take over Canada. Or a delayed effect of something you put into my apple juice at the hotel. Or if you get me pregnant I’ll—“
“Redefine sexuality?” Wanda offered, making good on her word with another ten second kiss, and hug, that felt like it lasted ten millennia. Accompanied by a light show from the mountain, and, as Harvey felt it anyway, the chorus of hotel residents and guests breaking into a crescendo which seemed to be just for him, and them, and of course, the gods above and Spirit within.
JW was impressed with how literary Old Harvey had become when telling the tales, or perhaps even facts, about young Harvey. It was as if he was growing into the story, maturing into something bigger and better than himself. But one thing did remain, in the world of the ‘living’ as JW and Officer McGilvry toured the facility he had described in the past.
JW could not believe that the architectural wonder and celebration of the best parts of humanity happened here, 40 years ago. It was as if he was privy to a viewing of Atlantis, after its inhabitants had been taken into slavery, afflicted with a deadly plague, or committed mass suicide. The latter possibility seemed to occur to JW as an explanation to why so many ‘clients, doctors and nurses’ had disappeared on the fateful day Old Harvey never talked about, yet the press had no problem inventing stories about back in the day. None of the accounts in the twenty newspapers that covered that cataclysmic event, nor the two almost aired made for mass tv movies, were consistent with what JW felt, and what Officer McGilvry, his for the most part trusted assistant, seemed to think. The sometimes on, sometimes off love interest in blue had warned JW against carrying out this private two person investigation, informing him that they would not emerge the same people afterwards, to themselves, or each other.
Yet, JW had no other choice than to walk a still hand-cuffed Old Harvey through the charred, blood-tinged and rotting buildings that still seemed to refuse to fall apart, despite three hurricanes and a tornado that over the decades had flattened most every other structure within 20 miles of the place. The promenade during which the Old Man still remained silent ended at the old archway to the facility. A swaying board defiantly standing against an oncoming wind that seemed determined to knock it down.
“So, I need to ask you, once again, for both of our sakes, what happened here next” JW asked Old Harvey as he viewed the Welcome sign on the archway to the Southern entrance, the inscriptions on it burnt into the petrified wood, most of it still readable.
“For the Police report your assistant is going to file with her bosses? Or the Psychology Tomorrow Article you’re going to write so you can be your own boss, or boss others around you, Doc?” Old Harvey asked as he inserted a charred rod from the ground on one of the beams holding the sign up, saving it from falling just as it was about to drop on the uniformed officer behind JW, and on JW himself, with permanent life-taking consequences.
“You’re welcomed, Doc,” the Old Man said to the still living young Doc. “Something morality required me to do for you,” he grunted at JW, after which he turned to Anna McGilvry, speaking from the other side of his brain, and soul, with a very active libido “And that I WANTED to do for you, Wanda.”
“What are we going to do with this dirty and very WANTED old man?” McGilvry asked her boss, pushing JW’s protective torso away from her. “And what’s the world going to do with US if we go home empty handed this time?”
“Yes,” Old Harvey offered, interrupting JW from recalling so many investigative adventures with Anna into the paranormal that resulted in normal explanations which afforded her no collar to advance herself to getting her Detective Shield, and gave him no data he could real data he could publish in any scientific journal, or speculations that would be relatable in a ‘fact based’ novel. “Yes, Doctor. You who could, with the right account, or theory, can go back home and say who’s sane, who’s normal and who’s Alive, big A?”
JW could hear Anna giving the young Doc a ‘he’s got you there’ eye-roll, and see the reprimand he would get for losing a mental patient put under his care, who was not supposed to be in Canada. And who was looking at Anna as if she was already his personal property, and destiny. He took in a deep breath, weighing carefully the balance between gentle persuasion and necessary emotional force. “Look, Harvey, Mister Millhouse,” JW said, honoring both agendas. “It will be an involuntary hospitalization big H or Prison big P if you don’t tell me the TRUTH about what happened here.”
“I was telling you the truth,” ‘Professor’ Harvey related, and confessed. “From my own perspective anyway,” he continued strolling around with his leg chains as if they were ballet slippers, allowing him free motion to dance, march or fly anywhere he chose in a classroom that he now considered in active session. “You know, Plato, who didn’t really say if the gods were our puppet-masters or servants, said that—“
“—Look!” JW screamed, grabbing the old man by the collar, not caring what protocol of his or someone else’s he was violating. “I don’t give a shit about what Plato said.”
“That’s a coincidence,” Harvey replied to the sweat soaked Doc, without a tinge of stress or anger. “Plato didn’t and…” he continued, looking at the snow capped mountain behind what used to be the hotel. “…Still doesn’t give a shit about what you’ve said so far either.”
JW heard a chuckle, then a liberated laughter. He turned around to its source. Anna’s hard core professional face that never showed emotion, in good times and bad, and in happy times and sad, had broken into a wide smile. She pulled back from displaying enjoyment of the joke, but didn’t apologize for laughing at it, either with her eyes or mouth.
JW grabbed hold of her camera, taking charge of the photography of the forty year old crime scene himself. The tour this time took him through building where discarded urban clothing, jewelry, suitcases, books and now bones appeared, perhaps due to a heavy rain that had drenched the structures the night before.
“Or put another way,” Harvey said boldly, regarding the joke about Plato not giving a shit about a young Doc who claimed to know everything about him.
“Or put another way, what?!” JW blasted at the old man.
Harvey’s reply this time was delivered in music. Lyrics in another tongue, sung in such a way that Anna understood them. She laughed at the jokes Harvey inserted into the notes and the libretto. By the way he and Anna were looking at JW, it was now the young Doc who was the butt of the jokes.
“What language was that?” JW assertively requested of the Old Man. “And what did he say?” he demanded of the woman he thought he knew, both in the bedroom and in the boardroom.
“The important thing is WHY I said it, and sang it,” Harvey replied as JW saw Anna’s two baby blues turn into stone walls which were lined with flowers that he was somehow not allowed to touch, smell or feel, hiding a secret she had just found out that JW was ‘not quite ready for’.
“OK,” the Doc who was supposed to dig out what was in other people’s heads instead of the one whose brain was being dissected by others said, as Harvey and Anna shared what seemed to be other secrets with adoring stares. “So why did you sing that song to this ‘reincarnated’ Wanda?” he pressed of Harvey, sensing that maybe had Anna found a way into the Old Man’s head, on her own, with, he hoped, a mutually beneficial end in mind.
“Do you want to tell him?” Officer McGilvry asked of Harvey, seeming to be more Wanda than Anna.
“Better it come from you,” Old Harvey said.
Anna seemed reluctant, then scared to relate whatever she was thinking, or feeling.
“Come on, Officer McGilvery,” JW pressed, convinced now that the she had indeed become Wanda. Or wanted to be Wanda so much that it actually materialized in her mind, and soul. “Maybe YOU can tell me WHY the most wanted suspect in the most bizarre disappearance of people and property holdings in decades just sang whatever he did to you?”
“So you, ‘JW’ this lifetime anyway, could feel like he did,” Anna replied, her stare still fixed on Old Harvey, by choice this time.
“What he felt like when?” the good and usually in control of his advanced mental faculties Doc asked.
Anna pulled out a tape recorder from her pocket, flicking it on. Harvey sat on a stump and began to talk. This time, JW listened with more believing ears. Not so much because Old Harvey was a sayer of truth, as he experienced it anyway. But because now, for reasons only the wind around him seemed to know, JW and Anna were part of that experience.
Once again, Harvey was assigned by life to be a watcher rather than a doer, and more interestingly, a watcher who was, in name anyway, charged with being a superior. But ruled by someone who he couldn’t argue with, and had to obey. The lawyers who divided out the money from Grandpa Thundercloud’s will insisted that he run the hotel according to his rules. The administrator of those rulings, and the interpreter Harvey was forced to obey, either by the power of love or the reluctance to interpersonal combat, was none other than Wanda. Overseeing the whole thing, of course, was the cookoo clock with Harvey tried to hide under his bed. It was now being reinserted onto the wall of the front desk of the Olympian Hotel by a subservient Handyman, assigned the job of seeing that it always be in his ‘boss’s’ presence.
Awaiting yet another comment from the clock which sent out an avian messenger at times he didn’t expect, and most notably didn’t want, ‘Master Harvey’ sat on his cushioned leather throne behind a large oak desk as Wanda explained how his kingdom was supposed to be run.
“So,” Philosopher Queen Wanda explained, pointing Harvey’s attention to maps inserted into the two inch thick, leather-bound manual Grandpa Thundercloud willed to him, to make the operating the facility ‘easier, fulfilling, expansive and, when Fate permitted, fun’. “The bronze route, for the unconditioned newcomers. Their tour up the Spirit Mountain is along the gentle-sloped train on the East side. Stopping here. The silver sojourn takes selected seekers further up, veering West, stopping at the hot springs. The gold journey take the steeper Southern trail up, ending, with no exceptions, at the tree line, before the unrecognizable quicksand at the plateau before the un-climbable cliffs above which is the snowcapped and often foggy summit. The maps are put on the walls in everyone’s room.
“And that cookoo clock in THIS room!?” Harvey finally gave voice to. “With the ‘guardian servant’ bird inside that’s supposed to be moved into my bedroom whenever I get to sleep? So it can…” He turned the page on the Manual, this time without Wanda’s permission. “’Guide me into the huya aniya where I can be master of my dreams so that I wake p to be an Enlightened master in the waking world?’” her read as a convinced disbeliever. “And reminding me that for even accepting this deal, I’m—“ This time Harvey extended his hand out to the clock, before its anticipated reply.
“Cookoo,” the avian messenger from the clock said, as a matter of hard and unchangeable fact.
The face of the stoic, hard working Handyman, who, as Harvey saw it anyway, could not have reset the clock inside the wooden bird’s head, broke into playful grin.
“Okay! How do you become master of that servant bird?” Harvey inquired of his hired hand.
“With this, Cap’tn,” the middle aged Handyman said, pulling a remote control from his pocket, in a dirt poor, fish-smelling Newfoundland accent. “Which, sure as every Newfy man comes ta the alter experienced and every bride a virgin, works on most days,” he continued, after which he looked up at the mountain. “On some days anyway,” the high school drop-out who valued the organ between his legs far more than the one between his ears blurted out of his reverent mouth as his stare up at the snow-covered peak was held hostage. “A very few some days,” he concluded.
“A very few some days?” Harvey challenged. “What about up there really controls what’s down here? In this hotel, or inside that private studio the bird gets to live in, rent free! And before you answer me with another riddle or profound Silence. Remember that with this pen in my hand, I sign your paychecks, or pink slips.”
The handyman, who Harvey knew was in more need than want of his salary, gave the matter careful consideration. And despite Wanda’s nodding ‘no’ to him, his quivering lips started to open with a ‘yes’ reply, and a clear explanation about to break the tense silence that thickened the already humid air in the room. It was halted by the pager on his tool-belt ringing.
“Me arsce be called elsewhere,” the Handyman said with an apologetic smile to Harvey. “Gots to go, Boss,” he continued as he put the remote on the hotel desk, averting his eyes, and consciousness, from his frustrated employer while tending to duties in an un-described elsewhere.
“Boss!” Harvey blasted out at his employee as he stormed to the door, slipping en route, then picking himself up. “That’s the one who tells others what to do and say.” Turning the cookoo clock, he continued to the bird, who starred at him from outside his front door. “Including you. I’m not—“
“Cookoo?” the bird replied. The ‘guardian avian angel’ continued the claim several times, with increasing assertiveness. Which became more assertive the harder Harvey tried to cease it with the remote control that had just worked in the hands of the presumably unskilled High School drop out Newfy Handyman. Finally, the bird conceded to Harvey’s demands, retiring into his house, maybe exhausted by the argument as much as Harvey was.
“And stay there!” he grunted, pulling a hammer out of the desk draw, grabbing a fist full of nails, then storming up to the clock.
Before Harvey could carry his threat into complicity, he felt the hand of reason, or perhaps passion, on his shoulder. “Harv, there’s something important you, we have to do now,” Wanda said.
Harvey turned around, seeing a stack of mail in Wanda’s hands.
“Important mail from some important and influential people,” she said. “Special delivery packages, maybe from clients with power and influence, addressed to YOU!”
Feeling himself elevated to being bosses to those where were bosses of others, Harvey grabbed hold of the mail. With a letter opener bearing what seemed to be Atlantian writing, he opened them, and commenced reading them for himself, throwing aside the manual Grandpa Thundercloud had left him as if it was carrying a disease within and between the lines.
“Harv, you have to pay attention to these guidelines your Grandfather said had to be followed,” Wanda said, picking it up.
“Guidelines are supposed to be considered, not blindly obeyed, ‘Wan,” Harvey blasted back .
“You’re not listening to me!” Wanda replied.
“What goes into my eyes doesn’t interfere with what goes into my ears,” Harvey claimed. “One skill I DID learn. Read on.”
“Okay then,” Wanda said with an eye-roll Harvey could feel beyond the corner of his own ocular portholes, as she picked up the manual, reading it as it was Gospel Truth from gods far more powerful, and present, than the Almighty she was told didn’t exist in her Soviet upbringing. “’As for kitchen meals, the cook is an expert in what fills the stomach and the mind’.”
“While adding a little extra special oregano to give the paying customers the munchies, which is fine. A trick that even the anti-hippie Greek restaurant owners do…Go on.”
“’Wardrobe. If guest don’t find what they need in the storage closets, they can order what they want. And in the meantime, wear their birthday suits. Even if they are extra large birthday suits.”
“If Black’s beautiful, Fat’s fantastic. Which I’m NOT!” Harvey shot back, taking in a deep breath to insure that his belly pulled back behind his belt.
“You’re not Black or Fat?” Wanda inquired.
“Go on,” Harvey said, denying Wanda a look at his eyes, or his admittedly under-exercised gut. “Pashalista, Comrade Revolutionary…” he continued, showing off one of the ten words he knew in ‘Ruskie’. “And…”
Harvey’s next attempt to say, or bastardize, Wanda’s beloved native tongue was held hostage by a picture of her he retrieved from one of the envelopes. After convincing himself that the photo of her smiling proudly while wearing a KGB uniform, overloaded with medals, he gave voice to his real feelings, and required agenda. “If I’m going to be the procedural, responsible ticket taker for a ride on this Enlightenment Express that I’m not allowed to take, or enjoy, I need some answers,” he said, after which he showed Wanda the photo.
“Where did you get this!” she demanded, grabbing for the photo, then the envelope it came in.
Pulling both envelope and photo, Harvey read the former. “The Indian, or as I’m supposed to say up here, ‘First Nations’ lawyer who came to the hotel room, after you fucked off. He mailed it to me, according to the postmark, yesterday.”
“’Woodlands Mohawk Band;’,” Wanda read on the envelope as she grabbed hold of it. “The biggest sell out fo the lumber companies North and South of the 49th parallel. Who else did he send it to?” she demanded with an angry voice, and terrified eyes.
“You tell me, Comrade Inspector Major Petrovitch,” Harvey replied, leaning back on his chair. Waiting to see what lies, half truths or confessions Wanda would come up with next. Her face seemed like it was deciding which of those three options it would be.
As Harvey predicted, Wanda walked gingerly to the door, locked it from the inside, and put a ‘Closed’ sign in on the glass, closing a curtain behind it. Her feet took her slowly around the room, then finally landed her in the darkest corner of the lobby. “I was drafted into service as a younger woman…By a father who insisted I took advantage of he opportunities for advancement,” she related with a downturned neck, her stare fixed on dark and deep memories behind them.
“Opportunities for advancement offered to me in the US military by MY father which I avoided,” Harvey boasted. “At great risk to myself!”
Wanda listened to, absorbed then finally replied to the accusation thrown at her. “Papa worked so hard for me to get these opportunities for me,” she said, gazing at the photo of her younger self as a proud enforcer of hard-line Soviet Agendas. “And I would have suffered if I didn’t take them!”
“Said as a cowardly Revolutionary,” he noted.
“Cowardly Revolutionary you say!?” Wanda blasted back, her face turning far more red than the star on her uniform. “You spoiled, self absorbed, sheltered—“
“—Sheltered?” Harvey shot back.
Wanda clenched her fists, then pulled it back. But she could not hold back the volcanic rage in her voice. Taking in several deep, ‘think before you blast’ breaths, she took three steps forward, out of the dark corner and to a stack of 8 track cassettes representing the best, and most popular, artists Harvey knew about, and some he didn’t. She picked up the a colorfully illustrated tape of Yellow Submarine and the White Album. “When you want Beatles records, you go to a pampered son of a car dealer in a well lit store. When we want to visit Strawberry Fields or take a journey on a Yellow submarine we go to a black marketer hoodlum in a dark alley who sneaks us a X-Ray film we play on our victrolas at home. Unless a KGB officer catches us, sending any music loving young man who dared to grow his hair more than three inches long home with a crew cut. “
She made her way to a mirror, staring at someone in her reflection Harvey didn’t know, but needed to. “And sending any hippie chicks, particularly those who finally decided that the Russian Revolution needs to be upgraded and revised to somewhere else. She gets passed around the police barracks as entertainment for her father’s pals, then sent to a Siberian mental hospital by her father for a special…” Wanda’s tears washed the rest of the description from her mouth.
“I didn’t know,” Harvey said as he got up from his comfortable chair, and sheltered life, to comfort her. She pulled away, then retrieved a joint from her pocket.
“Which is why I need this!” Wanda claimed, after which she lit the joint and commence to take in giant sized, toke, holding it in as long as she could. “This weed from the wilds of Siberia,” she continued after releasing smoke and a few coughs from her lungs. “Which grew ‘wild’ in the woods outside of the Psychiatric Hospital,” she related with a sardonic chuckle. After which she took even deeper and longer sojourns into Strawberry fields with another toke.
“So you became a journalist,” Harvey said from what he felt was a safe emotional and physical distance. “Whose father—-“
“—Will find me one day,” Wanda replied with even glassier eyes, as she took in yet another toke, hoping somehow it would take her somewhere else. “To bring me ‘back home’ to his ‘loving arms’.”
Harvey imagined the worst about the details. He had read about fathers who loved their daughters more than their wives, and in ways that were not love at all when those daughters protested such. But instead of relating those events in her past, Wanda decided on informing Harvey of the present, and feared future.
“Daddy dearest also would see to it that you’re sent home too,” she said. “To an Army Stockade, with his legal connections, for avoiding the draft. Or…”
Once again, the horror of the memories of the past, and terror of the inevitable future closed off Wanda’s throat. And couldn’t be pushed away by another toke. Harvey approached her again, slowly this time, his arms and heart extended like than had never been before. This time she pushed him away, hard!
“He’d put me in pine box?” Harvey advanced. “With his illegal connections, for loving you too much?”
“I’m…sorry, Harvey,” she said, her back turned to him. “I didn’t mean to bring you all into this.”
“But I am in all of this. Whatever the hell it is,” Harvey replied, feeling like a man. The kind that his father would be more than proud of. The kind who even he himself was proud to be.”
This time, Harvey’s gentle advance with his aching bones and bruised muscles were received by Wanda. She hugged him with unlimited love, and intense desperation.
“We’ll work it all out,” Harvey assured her, even less sure about want ‘it’ was, or what the cost of holding onto ‘it’ was.
“Right, with your super powers,” Wanda replied, cynically.
“So I’ll sacrifice some macaroni with REAL cheese to the gods atop that mountain,” he said as a joke, and promise, gazing up at the snow covered peaks of ‘Spirit Mountain’.
“That won’t be enough,” Wanda replied, deadly serious. She pulled away, gazing at the peaks with awe, terror and hope.
“I’ll add some hot dogs to the offering,” Harvey added. “To the gods up there, and the God they have to answer to also. Spirit Big S, ya know?”
“No,” her reply.
“Ok then filet mignon?” Harvey offered.
“It’s not that simple,” Wanda informed him, her body frozen, her stare still held hostage by something up in the snowcapped peaks, which according to the ‘guidelines’, no one was supposed to climb, even the proprietor of the hotel in charge of guarding it.
“What harm can it do?” Harvey said as he walked to the window, looking at what he thought was what Wanda was watching so intensely. “We’ll both go up that mountain. Past the quicksand that the MAP says is there. Up the un-climbable rocks, where you can yell the fear of heights out of me en route. Or maybe take a helicopter that can handle the winds up there. I’m sure we can find—“
“—-No!” Wanda screamed out. “Is forbidden to go beyond the tree line!”
“Why?” Harvey challenged the woman who, as he sensed it, was the most intelligent human he had ever met.
“Because the gods, or God, who your Grandfather said lives up there, will extract their revenge. Worse than a crew cut for you, or being passed around the Army barracks for me. Or—“ Once again, Wanda’s tongue went silent, though her eye screamed out unspeakable images and realities.
“Or what?” Harvey inquired, as gently as he could. With as open a heart and head as he could muster.
“Or…we’ll find out that the gods, or God, doesn’t exist,” her reply, after which she averted her eyes from the Sacred Mountain, and Harvey. “And we’ll find out that we’re all on our own. God and Great Spirit help us…”
A tense silence followed, during which Harvey felt something, big S and small s, enter the room, enveloping Wanda, then him.
Harvey did his best to hold back his fear. Wanda did nothing to hold back mad laughter. “A joke,” she explained regarding her last metaphysical speculation. “God help us in a universe without God, or gods…Formulated from a planet where we’re soon all going to be…”
Again, Harvey waited for Wanda’s mind to push what it was thinking through her emotionally-stuck brain. Finally, she turned around, and reached for the joint. This time, Harvey grabbed hold of it. “Where we’ll all be what? On a planet, place or Mission where what is destined to happen?”
“I don’t know,” Wanda replied, being more honest with herself, and Harvey than she ever had seemed to be. “I just know that—“
While Harvey waited for an answer, Wanda grabbed the joint from his hand and swallowed it. Within seconds of it reaching her stomach, a carefree smile came over her face. With glassy eyes, seeing things far more happy than anything she, or he, had experienced together, she sung, as if channeling something from Somewhere far bigger than anywhere he had been, or imagined possible. “The rabbit will chase the mongoose into the hole and emerge as a lion. Or a pussy cat with shit on it’s face. Meow..Meow…I smell mice and rats and…” Wanda then became a cat, going down on all fours, pawing for rodents. Real ones that came in through the woodwork, which she snatches with her paws and played with.
Harvey had read about the Oracles at Delphi in Ancient Greece, who were believed to be the voice of the gods, and to those who listened hard enough, according to the Comparative Philosophy teacher who briefly was allowed to be hired at his High School and the films her recommended, even God. “God works in mysterious ways,” Harvey thought as he recalled what he had read, seen and speculated about the Oracles. “And dangerous ones,” he considered while seeing feline Wanda become absorbed into realms perhaps only understandable by Spirit Helper Cats. Or, as he looked at the cookoo clock, wooden birds with minds and souls of their own. So far, anyway.
“The story about the Oracles of Delphi is really the story about loss of innocence of humanity,” Old Harvey related to Doctor JW Jones in the now three walled enclosure which had been the kitchen of the Olympian. “Spartans, Athenians, and other competitors were trying to figure out who was supposed to be the rulers of Greece during the Golden Age, who got to have to cook the baklava, and who would have to clean up he shit on the tables and outhouses afterwards, he continued while Anna continued to take pictures of the once glorious eatery, putting samples of still wrapped food into her evidence bag. “So they akes the oracles, who gave them…hmmm.”
“Who gave them what?” Doctor Jones pressed, turning his visual attention to the Old Professor rather than the young co-investigator. “Who gave them what!!!” he repeated three times with escalating rage.
“Colorful answers,” Harvey answered with a warm and mischievous smile, observing something happening over JW’s shoulder. “Especially after they…”
The young going on very old double doc, saw Anna tasting what her nose had smelt. Before she could smack her lips three times, she turned into a ditzed out flower child, dancing in circles, shedding her drab, blue uniform for naked skin covered only by a an off white table cloth she had converted into a dance partner. “Wow!” the talk-sing discourse began. “The sky and the earth are one, the bridge between them in the rabbit’s eye. And the hippo’s back door mouth,” she continued, the latter referring to a very naked and wiggling ass.
JW ran towards the woman who, be it on the job or off it, always cared what people would think about her expressive behavior rather than is she was enjoying it. His attempts to stop her from dancing her way to more psychedelic delights were halted by Anna’s quick dance moves, a banana peel on the floor, and a pie that met his face en route. “Don’t eat that, Anna!” JW warned his still beloved work and sometimes play partner.
“Too late, for you anyway, Doctor, as you call yourself now anyway, Jones,” Old Harvey noted, sadly yet proudly. “As it was for the Spartan and Athenian seekers who figured out that the Oracles, the mouthpieces of the gods, were nothing more than ditzed out aging hippie chicks stones on mushrooms.”
“Who can…sing and dance,” JW self observed muttering out of his lips. “Like Officer McGilvry, and Anna, could never sing, or dance,” he admitted, astounded at the gymnastics of her voice-box as well as the gyrations of her legs. “Even at Karaoke after the fifth glass of vodka, or oozo.”
“Delusion has its benefits,” Old Harvey noted, along with the smile of glee that had no bounds to its appreciation on unbridled Bliss. The kind of Bliss that JW dreamed about being able to give to Anna, or share with her. “But…as my Grandfather said, and you need to know, and tell everyone else in the world you are doomed, and blessed, to live in…” With that the Old Man bent his aching but still not broken hunchbacked torso to the floor, then with a burst of strength that seemed to come from somewhere outside of himself, snapped open the cuffs which, according to the rules of science in the Real world, were unbreakable. He then grabbed hold of the tape recorder that had fallen from Officer McGilvry’s pocket before she became Oracle Anna, or perhaps Priestess Wanda. It was broken, beyond repair. But not for the quick hands of Old Harvey. With three quick slight of hand motions, and one forceful push delivered with a grunt, it was operative again.
The nighttime festivities after the evening meal at the Olympian Hotel would put Woodstock to shame. And they occurred every night. And everyone was on stage, at the same time. That stage, lighted by a large bonfire and the occasional blasts of light coming from the craters in mountain behind it, included singing, dancing and philosophizing, all at the same time. In a discourse of unbridled Passion where everyone was Right, and no one was wrong, unless of course they thought they were the only ones who were right. Moorish Scholars of Old danced with Renaissance period Christians, reductionist scientists from the 19th century who wrote the books that all 20th century science students took as gospel sang improvised hypotheses with Ancient Druid Seers who recalled how Stonehenge was really build. The music came from craftsman and craftswomen who added their own individual rythyms to the harmonic dissonance that somehow allowed everyone to dance to a beat of their choosing. And in the middle of it all, orchestrating it, all, and enjoying it, Wanda.
Watching the tribal fest of rugged and merged individualists was Old Harvey, who did not partake in the special desert given to all of the guests, and the facilitators. What was in the Saskatoon berry syrup, or the sprinkles on the ice cream, he didn’t know. And didn’t care to know. But there was one thing Harvey did know, or was expected to by the other observer.
“Real Creativity is best enjoyed and only accomplished when you’re straight,” an Old Indian clad from head to toe in traditional buckskins and beads, with a wrinkled face but young vibrant eyes said to Harvey. “With a clear mind. That struggles against dull out disease for any Insights and liberation. No pain, no gain.”
“And no fun, Grandpa,” Harvey said, as he tried yet again to touch the hologram next to him, or the ghost of his departed ‘mentor in absentia’. “As I know as someone in the real world. Who, as I can tell anyway, is not under the influence of any pharmaceuticals Wanda has in her magic bag, or power of song she put into any placebos. But…Yeah, true Enlightenment is only possible without pharmaceutical help, I know. But…why is that only route up the mountain void of fun? Was it that way when you ran this place?”
“I don’t know,” Grandpa Thundercloud replied, moving aside yet again, as Harvey ‘accidently’ slipped into him, then onto the ground. Pushing a bent tree his way, so that Harvey could get up again, Grandpa continued. “But, someone had to do the dancing,” he said with a warm and sorrowful smile, recalling someone like Wanda, no doubt. “And someone has to do the dancing now.”
“And someone has to go back to the Spirit World,” Harvey countered. “But…Why can I see you? Unless I’m dreaming now,” he continued, considering another possibility for his Grandpa’s visitation, in ways that felt very real.
Grandpa smiled, one of those ‘ya got it finally, my friend’ grins.
“So,” Harvey said. “I’m working out shit in the huya aniya now? The Spirit World? That you fought in back in 192 when you beat the shit out of the Mexican Federales who were putting down the Yaqui Indian revolt? And changed the outcome of the revolt? Resulting in the hundreds of traditional Yaqui rebels surviving the onslaught of the thousands of well armed Mexican soldiers, and very soon afterwards, taking back their land. Most of it anyway. According to the novel I read about it. ‘Revolutionary Blues.’”
“Where you were Charlie, a dumbshit American expatriate, who did some heave duty dreaming.”
“Like I’m doing now, Grandpa?” Harvey said as he noticed Wanda dancing with yet another partner. This time one that looked ten times handsomer than he ever was, or could be, who bore a striking resemblance to the super-cool and ultra-elitist pop Revolutionary Maestro Youngblood. And with whom she shared the kind of joy, and happiness, that he could never give her. Or was afraid to. “Yeah….All I have to do to change the world is do some heavy duty dreaming in the huya aniya.”
“Yup. If you dream…assertively.”
“How!?” Harvey spat back into Grandpa’s smiling face, recalling all of the nightmares he had where things happened to him. And envisioning Wanda’s belly getting fat with this Maestro Youngblood’s baby, before Harvey got a chance to grow into the concept of being a father.
“Give it a shot,” Grandpa replied. “WILL it to happen. Whatever that ‘it’ is. ”
“OK,” Harvey conceded. He closed his eyes, stood at attention, and clicked his heels together. “There’s no place like Om,” he said, mimicking the Wizard of Oz.
“No place like Om. No place like…”
Harvey opened up his eyes, just at the last syllable came out of his mouth. In front of his eyes were even more dancers, with an even more joyful, and FUN celebration.
Joining them were his mother, father and even ‘Sergeant Brenda, the Army recruiter sent by Harvey’s Dad to cajole him into joining the military voluntarily. They were all singing Pacifist songs now. Wanda danced her way over to Harvey, asking him to join in, leaving the Maestro Youngblood clone in the arms of a ‘patient’, or perhaps ‘doctor./nurse’ who was the spitting image of every Viking maiden invented in the imaginations of every 20th century nerd who dreamed about captaining a ship that conquered the world, without of course getting sea-sick.
Yes, Harvey knew it was a dream, or a hallucination, but it felt real enough to buy as real. Certainly needed, as he felt the strange sensation of something in the smoke from campfire blow his way. Yes, he reached out his hand to become part of this dream, and to transform it into reality. Yes, recalling Grandpa’s advise, and processing it, he did say to himself that ‘dancing with a little help beats fighting without any help.’ And, yes, his attempt to pull happiness into his love-seeking heart was halted. This time it was from another Indian, who stood on his left side, his hand extended outward.
“No, Harvey!” Ross Cuthand, clad in a plain black suit, said as Harvey’s torso met his strong, rigid arm. “Do you want to be a hammer or a nail? A happy mortal or a satisfied, accomplished god?”
“He has a point, Gramps,” Harvey said to the aberration, and co-star, to his right.
“He’s a sell out,” Grandpa Thundercloud informed Harvey as he angrily stared down a cool, collected and confident Cuthand. “The embodiment of dull out disease. Procedural. Lifeless. Simplistic. And—“
“Alive! In BOTH worlds,” the cultured, educated and very connected Indian lawyer, and apparently Band leader, replied. “With power and influence you don’t have.” Demonstrating his point, Cuthand snapped his fingers. Instantly, the gleeful, passionate dancers turned into drones, obediently and lifelessly dancing to a simple, four-four time ‘made for AM radio’ commercial tune that the musicians were now mechanically pushing out of their instruments, the music replaced by notes. The joy, Passion and Fire in Wanda’s face turned into bland mush, as she sat on a stump, her blank stare illuminated by the campfire. Cuthand turned to the very traditionally defiant Thundercloud. “Unlike you, who were voted OUT as chief, who—“
“—-Can make you and your new band of sell outs disappear,” Thundercloud affirmed, after which he snapped his fingers.
The only effect that gesture from the Old Shaman was aching of his arthritic fingers. “You have to do it too,” Thundercloud instructed Harvey.
Meanwhile, a smug and smiling Cuthand pulled a remote control from his pocket. An identical model to that which Harvey was given to regulate activity of the cookoo bird ‘on some days’ when the ‘gods would allow him to’. Pressing the buttons, Cuthand made the dancers step on each other’s feet, then take out revenge for doing so with their fists. The musicians stopped making music with their instruments and turned them into weapons to inflict harm to each other. Wanda started to hit herself, singing a tune Harvey knew all too well from his own auscultations, “I am garbage, I’m a piece of shit, I should die,” with as catchy and soul draining dirge.
Harvey self observed himself lifting up his fingers to snap them out of it, unable to make them do anything except slip against each other. “I can’t!” Harvey exclaimed.
“Then fucking do something, for Great Spirit’s sake!” Thundercloud pleaded as Cuthand smiled with delight at the lack of any delight in the dancers, singers, and Wanda.
“Spirits aren’t supposed to say ‘fucking’,” Harvey protested as he and his Grandpa kept trying to snap their fingers. “Goddamn it!” Harvey’s fingers then went into pain, then spasm.
“A lot of spirits are going to be damned if you don’t do something!” Thundercloud yelled at ‘Meastro Harvey’. “And stop Cuthand and his kind!”
“Give me that remote!” Harvey said to Cuthand, reaching for it.
“Fuck off loser,” Cuthand replied, pulling it back.
“Please?” Harvey pleaded.
“Right,” Cuthand shot back, his grin ten times more smug than anything the real life Maestro Youngblood had thrown at him, or any other manipulator who Harvey let become his master. “Everything’s set in motion now, and there’s nothing you or that dinosaur you’re with can do about it,” he continued, throwing the remote into the fire. Which, upon reaching it, put Wanda into an even deeper zombified stupor. Grandpa Thundercloud began to disappear.
“No. Wrong!” Harvey yelled from the depths of soul. This time directing rather than being taken by his feet, he ran into the fire. Reaching into it, pulled out the remote, pressing the buttons. The combative dancers and musicians ceased their combative activities, falling into slumber. Wanda woke up from her zombified state, noted Harvey’s severely burnt hand, and kissed it. Cuthand appeared next to him.
“So, this shows you are worthy of being one of us. To become a winner, Master, no Maestro Harvey,” Cuthand extended his hand to Harvey, inviting him to shake it. “Join us, and you can be in charge of everything here, and more. As a winner. ”
Harvey looked to Cuthand, seeing, finally, that face which was inviting him into the in crowd. For good this time. He then looked to Wanda, who kept her head bowed to him. He looked to Grandpa who, without expression, said, “Your choice, no one else’s. Harvey. “
Harvey heard the echo of his name again and again, getting louder and louder. As if it was coming from the clouds and the bowels of the earth, both at the same time. It got so loud that he felt a jolt going through his head, then spine, then felt his neck push his chin upward until….
Maybe it was the burning of his hand from the campfire, or the flame in Harvey’s heart that was always reserved for Wanda, or something she did with her lips when kissing the painful wounds on his palms into blissful passion, or…just Cuthand’s loud, authoritative and reality based voice.
“Harvey, Mister Millhouse?” Harvey heard from Cuthand as he woke up from an unscheduled slumber, finding himself very much on the ‘dull’ side of the veil. Harvey noted the two rows of Indians in the very corporate board room on either side of the table, with himself at the end of it, or head of it, depending on your perspective. “Are you okay?” Cuthand asked with a caring voice. One that any sane person would trust with regard to intent and raw data.
“Just, overworking myself,” Harvey explained, hoping it would excuse his dosing off for a 2 second nod or perhaps a 20 minute midday nap. “Not getting much sleep, taking care of guests. And being woken up by a cookoo clock with a mind of its own.”
“Which, legally now, we can have removed from the property. Despite what your Grandfather wrote in his will,” Cuthand related. “Isn’t that right, Emily”?
“A property which is rightfully ours,” added Emily Halson, a twenty-five year old Pocahantis bombshell in a flaired jacket, low cut blouse and pencil skirt that revealed every attractive female feature in her perfectly shape body, which she seemed to be offering Harvey with her eyes.
“A sacred mountain to our people,” a mocassined Elder with long white hair, and thinning at the top.
“To our people, not yours, or you,” Ms. Halson added.
“Which we will pay you handsomely for, and I will be eternally grateful to you for doing,” the proposition from the seductive, classy Redskinned corporate Barbie who, as Harvey saw it with his bulged out eyes, and felt it with his sprouting third leg, made Wanda seem like the plainest Jane in Passaic, New Jersey.
“Which, according to my sources, is rich in uranium, gold and oil. That you want to mine. And turn the rest into a casino,” Harvey advanced, averting his eyes from the temptress, and her minions. “Which of course you’re only considering so that you can give your people jobs in the White World so they don’t have to be pushed aside or oppressed by it.”
The assured look on the Indians turned into confusion, chaos, and fear.
“And you think you know this because, Mister Millhouse?” Cuthand asked Harvey, addressing him by that title with the kind of acknowledgement he had rarely experienced.
“One of the clients, who was Charles Darwin in a past lifetime, is now an independent University of Toronto geologist?” the young buck replied to the middle aged Chief, confidently sitting back on the chair provided to him.
“That’s a question, not an answer, Mister Millhouse,” Cuthand pointed out.
“Yeah, I know,” Harvey said with a confident smirk, hoping it would hide the rest of the agenda building up in his now expanded and educated by the huya aniya soul. He reached for the contract offering him more wampum than he could spend in three lifetimes, even if he did take up buying expensive dope, high end booze and a harem of Wanda’s to share them with. Or to buy 10 mountains and 30 hotels somewhere else and turn them into anything he, and Wanda, wanted to. But this offer of yours to buy me out, is very generous and…”
In a moment courage, insight or spontaneous stupidity, Harvey ripped the contract into two, then four, then eight pieces, laying them neatly on the table.
“We have more powerful friends in the real world than you have in that fantasy park your Grandfather set up,” Cuthand reminded Harvey.
“Maybe,” the reply.
“That accident which killed him, it wasn’t necessary, you know, or should know,” Cuthand continued, in the manner of a Mafia Don. The kind of species of ‘humans’ which littered the New Jersey county Harvey had called home, yet never met, knowingly anyway.
“Or maybe it was?” Harvey proposed.
“That’s another question, Mister Millhouse,” Don Cuthand asserted.
“Is it now?” the reply, after which Harvey walked out of the board room, on his own two feet. Feeling proud of himself, and confident in the future. Until the door was closed behind him and his brain realized what his Mind-Soul had just done.
Several long hours later, Harvey returned to his life-assigned post, Spiritual Calling or sentence, all three mandates having merged with each other, somehow. An open aired weekly picnic by the river at the base of the mountain provided guests and staff, dressed in period outfits from their various glory and/or gory previous lifetime pasts a chance to come together, to see whose era showed human evolution, and which displayed devolution. Time. As manager of the establishment, Harvey still was not allowed to know who was a the patient/client and who was the doctor/staff. But keeping
Karmic books balanced in several dimensions at once required someone who was responsible, and it was not as simple as who stole a goat, gold mine or girl from a Macedonian village in 800 AD, and whether that debt was later paid to that village by the ancestor of who had stolen it. It was up to those who had done the stealing, and who had let themselves be stolen from, to figure it out. Something that worked best on a full stomach, with food that nourished the body and didn’t too anything harmful to the mind.
Harvey, on wagon pulled by Wanda’s horse (him on the horse), carted food to Wanda, who cooked it on an open campfire. He unloads it, with great effort, onto two tables. One table has on it ‘for the gods and the Spirit’, the other ‘for us’. Harvey puts very large portion of food on the ‘for us’ table, then switches some of it to the other, at Wanda’s non verbal insistence. After seeing that he put in the appropriate amount of food (10 percent of the ‘for us’ amount), Wanda turns around, tended to cooking. Harvey then sneaked some of the food from the gods’ table to human table. The horse, who had become his own property now, rather than Wanda’s, or Harvey’s, or any schlep who rode him nickered. Harvey retrieved apple from the gods’ table, offering it to the steed, which to the best of his knowledge and keen sense of smell, came from the tree directly without taking a detour into Wanda’s ‘special ingredient flavor enhancing’ kitchen shelf. Then an even bigger apple from the human table.
The horse, who Harvey was still afraid to ride, yet yearned to, said ‘thank you’ with his eyes, then seemed to ask a question of his two legged provider. “No, I don’t know who you were in a past lifetime, or what you were,” Harvey confessed. “And if you want me to give you psychological counseling regarding the issues you carried around from last lifetime, or acquired from this one, there’s a line in front of you right now.”
That line came to Harvey Sir Isaac Newton, who in his other life was Ira Bernbaum, an accountant from Boston who finally figured out that no matter how many times he could accurately balance, to the penny, the spread sheets of his clients, and themselves, they were still in negative Energy balance. “As I laid out in my book, that every physicist after me should have read, the LAWs of physics say that time is absolute, as is gravity on all matter,” he insisted with a badly but sincerely delivered English accent to a heavily mustached colleague with hair that looked like it had been electrified.
“Ya’ll are wrong, my friend und, when I was growing up, absolutely right in all things mentor,” Tommy Bob Williamson, a down home Alabama 18 year old replied as Albert Einstein, with a voice filled with enthusiasm, somehow incorporating ‘ya’ll’ in a German accent that felt real. “Time is never constant. It moves according to how fast the person is moving. Like these apples.” With that Professor Tommy Bob threw one apple up into the air, then moved another one very slowly, explaining that the man in the ship that went up to the moon or beyond experiences time more slowly, whereas for his twin brother, who stayed at home and walked to work that day instead of flew, time moves more quickly. “Und therefore, when they meet, the brother who stayed at home has become older than his twin who went up to the moon and beyond as speeds approaching the speed of light.”
“That speed controlled by gravity, my dear Albert,” the elderly Newton explained to young Einstein. “Gravity, which is a constant force, that you seemed to overlook in all of your calculations and theories.”
“Yes, Sir Issac,” Albert said with a courtly bow intended for show and lingering respect about to give way to the arrogance of youth. “Gravity may be a constant. But even if it is, even in a closed universe, it is an insignificant constant relative to light, energy and mass-energy inter-conversion. Gravity is—”
“—-Something more significant than you think!” Newton explained to Albert, demonstrating the point by taking the ‘slow brother’ apple, tossing it up in the air, then moving Albert’s body in line so that it hit his head.
“Und that is supposed to knock some sense into my head?” Albert asked Sir Isaac.
“It did to me when I discovered gravity, courtesy of an apple that fell out of a tree, that hit my head. A head that wasn’t as thick as yours is!” Isaac lifted up larger apple from the ground, preparing to shove it into the young genius who really was brilliant about everything except the concept of humility, and the law that who is on top as a young star will be brought down to earth in older age.. “And a mouth that should stop talking and listen!”
“To a ‘scientist’ who doesn’t know that science evolves, changes, and…” Albert shot back in an Alabama accent, as Tommy Bob, ready to throw the Old Coot, Isaac and Ira, an insult from modern times that he didn’t understand, though maybe did deserve.
“A smart scientist figures out what works, and forms a hypothesis about it, and a WISE one realizes that ANY hypothesis is always subject to change, improvement and/or embellishment,” Harvey interjected, as he took away the apples from their clenched fists, so they could not be converted into stones. The young facilitator, who knew as little about theoretical physics as he stuck in the 50s’ father knew about rock music, then served apple pie to both of them. “What can become of both apples, when tested and enjoyed in the real world,” he proposed.
Tempted by the aroma of the pies, the two warring physicists took small cautious bites, then worked their ways into bigger ones.
“Not bad,” Ira said, as Sir Issac.
“Good,” Tommy Bob added, as Albert.
“Delectable, and elegantly tasteful,” Isaac countered. “Like the differential calculus formula which allowed itself to be discovered by both of us, explains the movement of the planets.”
“And the stars beyond them, relative to the planets, of course.” Albert added, recalling his own good fortune when negotiating with Mother Nature, and perhaps God.
“And the movement of the planets relative to the stars, our course,” Isaac added.
“Sure as shit,” young Tommy Bob added, in Einsteinian German diction.
“Can’t be turned into shinola, for those with real noses, like us,” old Ira added, with an English accent, pointing to his large schnoz and Tommy Bob’s rapidly growing honker.
The two warring parties who had become closer friends than before, in this lifetime and perhaps the last ones, continued to converse with each other, ignoring Harvey. But, thank you’s or, better still, acknowledgment of Harvey’s underappreciated skill as a shrink, mediator and soul doctor would have to wait. A Visual war between another student and teacher was about to escalate into an explosion of color, expression and rage.
“Your lines are too circular, Vincent,” a client, or perhaps staff doctor, resembling Pablo Picasso said to a one-eared fellow painter while he was putting paint to a common canvas.
“And your lines are too circular, Monsieur Van Gogh, or as you call yourself, Maestro Vincent,” Piccasso replied back, shaking his long hair back with a flick of his head.
It was Harvey’s idea to give the two artists the same painting to collaborate on. One that emerged from a place in him he couldn’t identify, but was getting better at feeling, and learning to trust. He approached with head bowed, but
“Meastro’s,” he said, acknowledging their need to be addressed as such, as neither of the artists, as they were today, and as they were during their past incarnations, believed themselves worthy calling themselves that. “You are both right, and correct.”
“So, what do you see in this painting that I was requested to do with
Mister Van Gough, who sold only one painting in his lifetime?” Piccasso enquired of Harvey.
“And the portrait of life I was requested to do with senior Piccasso, who was overpaid for every random splash of paint he put on a canvas that got called art?” Van Gough countered, scratching the plastic implant latexed to his still functioning and intact ear, thanks to the intervention of an astute ex-girlfriend back in Philadelphia who took the steak knife away from him just before he was ready to chop it off himself.
“I’m not an art expert, but I can recognize a harmonic piece of Art, big A, when I see it, and feel it, and this one…makes me see, feel and think a lot,” Harvey noted, without lying this time. He went on to describe how wondrously harmonic Vincent and Pablo combined visions, even though, and perhaps especially because they came from housepainter Danny Fiorello and sheetrock salesman Rob Newman, the identities they were burdened to endure and turn around in their present lifetime.
Harvey’s ability to reveal to make people feel legitimately good or great about themselves worked, yet again. The two commoners-turrned-artists looked at him, coming up with a vision of their own.
“What?” the person who could make others feel so great but who still considered himself inferior to everyone, including his Inner Self, asked. “What are you looking at?”
“You’ll see,” ‘ ‘Rob’ Picasso said putting the first stroke on a fresh canvas.
“Very soon,” the one and a half eared ‘Vincent’ Fiorello added, as his brush added the counterpoint to his Spanish colleague, then commencing another visual melody of his own. “Stand still, please.”
A few more volleys between the two now Allied Artists revealed to Harvey an image of himself he had never seen within the first sketch. It exaggerated the real size of his nose, the wrinkles in his forehead and a mop of now overgrown hair that obeyed its own rules of symmetry. The left eye, done by Vincent, showed something completely different than what the right eye, described in bright colors that were not Harvey’s own, said something else. Harvey waited to see what that ‘something’ was. Yet at this point, the artists had already seen Harvey well enough. They looked at each other, or at the creation emerging between them, and the third brain which was making it all possible. Such gave Harvey the opportunity to tend to another matter, which was about to escalate into an auditory clash that would make anyone want, and need, to put cotton in their ears.
The melody was ‘God Save the King’, otherwise known to Harvey as ‘My Country Tis of Thee’. The players were, according to their fantasy and reclaimed incarnated realities, a forty year old Negroid Ludwig von Beethoven on a violin and a White-skinned woman with an Afro who looked like Jimmy Hendrix on an electric guitar. Both women. Both with that look in their eye that it was ‘that time of the month’. Both playing in different keys, and tempos, and modalities. Both preparing to jab their instruments into their competition, while playing to a crowd taking bets on who would remain standing by the third chorus. Until Harvey intervened with a kazoo supplemented with fart sounds, playing God Save the King with a mixture of at least five genres combined into one. Then merging into the Internationale, the Workers Liberation anthem that inspired the Russian Revolution against the Czar, and the 60s revolt against the ‘establishment’ on the Western side of the pond. Just as Harvey ran out of breath, Lady Ludwig and Madam Hendrix joined in, in the same key as Harvey, with counterpoint that inspired singing from someone who remembered the original French lyrics to that 19th century liberation anthem. At the center of it musically was Harvey this time, who after Ludwig gave him her violin, composed his own tunes, melodies and internal harmonies which came from Somewhere inside himself he could feel but not understand, and didn’t try to. Ludwig and Jimi joined in, followed by others who transformed whatever sound making devices in their hands and their voices into musical instruments.
The only audience Harvey cared about was one member. Wanda’s eyes met his, stimulating his good music to become great. She strolled towards him, congratulating him for transforming sound into music that converted her walk into a dance, welcoming him to join her. Seeing the magic to happen, Maestra Ludwig took the violin in hand, pushing Harvey towards his beloved for a dance that would transform both of them into Eternal Bliss.
The manifestation of that Bliss emerged to the beat of a slow adagio, based on Harvey’s recently composed and challenged symphony. Each step forward that Harvey took towards Wanda brought his feet closer to becoming a dance rather than a march. Until her eyeline shifted slightly to the left. Harvey dared to look around, thinking that perhaps Wanda was asking permission of the ghost of Grandpa, or one of the other ‘gods’. He saw someone who was very mortal, and good looking. A Brad Youngblood clone who out-beat Harvey in looks, and ability to convert his perfect body into a perfect dance.
Wanda fell into the arms of this Youngblood clone, and within one more beat of the drums around him, they merged into one body, performing a dance that was complete artistry. One which inspired others to join, but not compete, with them.
Watching it all was Harvey, the consummate observer. Observed a few breaths of aromatic air, by Grandpa Thundercloud of course.
“Just like I dreamed it at the board room, someone has to do the dancing that I know I can’t do,” Harvey related to his departed yet very present Grandfather with regret, and well hidden anger.
“And some of us have to be the unseen instruction behind the music and the dance,” Grandpa Thundercloud replied. “You just converted suicidal patients who will go out into the world into those able to save it from itself. But don’t expect a reward. Not from them anyway. But you will get compensation from—“
“—Who invited you to my side of the veil?” Harvey challenged the illusory life form next to him. “Who, yeah, still move away every time I try to touch you to see if you are—“
“—Real?” Grandpa countered, as he quickly turned around to the left. Causing his grandson to slip on a conveniently placed banana peel, falling into the mud. “That doesn’t matter much anyway, particularly in this after dinner talk.”
Grandpa pointed to the apple pie Harvey had just finished sharing with Professor Einstein and Sir Newton. He reached into it, pulling out small particles of small raisons that were not derived from grapes. “Wanda’s favorite spice. Makes you see things that aren’t there in your plane. But are very real in the ones you can’t see. But feel. Or…maybe it’s a placebo. And I really am—-”
“—Someone I’ll have more conversations with in my dreams tonight?” Harvey shot back.
“Intellectual improv,” Grandpa related with a sly smile.
“Fantasy based stories,” Harvey volleyed back.
“Which make reality bearable, and redeemable,” the Old Indian said by way of finality. He turned around and walked away, back into the fog in the woods from whence he came.
That night, Harvey surrendered to slumber in his room, but the gods would not accept his offering. Neither did the cookoo bird in the clock he was obligated, by law, to keep on his wall. In a half sleep, Harvey heard the bird come in and out of its house, speaking to him in another language that he didn’t recognize. Such was not unusual, but this time the voice was not that of himself rather than characters he saw in Sci Fi flicks that he wished went out of consciousness. After each sentence of what felt like Ancient Greek poetic gibberish, Harvey was requested to repeat what had been said. The bird repeated each phrase again and again, louder each time, requiring that its human student repeat the line with correct diction along with the accent on the right syllable.
“Ok, so this is how poets in Homer’s time learned to recite prose so it wouldn’t get lost. But we have tape recorders now, and paper, and pens, and vaults to keep them in!” Harvey, presumably completely awake, finally blasted at the bird with Jersey diction and Ugly American attitude. “What the fuck is this poem really about?!!!”
“You as the student excelling the teacher,” the bird replied, in Grandpa Thundercloud’s voice.
“Fuck this school and this lesson plan!” Harvey barked back at the silent, inanimate bird, who scurried back into his house along with his multi-character vocal chords. “I command you to come out and explain yourself!”
Figuring that technology trumped metaphysical illusion in this, the later half of the 20th century, and feeling that it was a day when the power of the gods were I mortal hands, Harvey grabbed hold of the remote control. This time, he was able to make the bird emerge, do its ‘dance’ on the platform outside its house, ‘bow’ on command and even turn its back to him, laying down a dropping of brown colored ‘pudding’, a feature which only Grandpa Thundercloud no doubt added to it to non-verbally communicate its approval or disapproval of what one said or did, or was thinking. But the avian messenger didn’t speak this time. And when Harvey pressed the ‘cookoo’ button, the bird retreated back into its house, the door shutting behind it. Emanating from behind the locked doors, laughter.
Harvey leaped out of bed, stumbled out of an unintended somersault on the floor, and grabbed hold of the laughing clock. With his bare and shaking hands he tried to open it, succeeding only in cutting his fingers open. The drips of blood from them led Harvey to a thin wire leading from the cookoo clock to his window. Outside of that window there were footprints. Fresh ones.
Immediately, Harvey felt like he was in one of those spy flicks where an American do gooder was staying at a hotel in Moscow where behind every wall there was a microphone and within every appliance there was a hidden camera. Such wasn’t disturbing, as Harvey’s urge for people to hear what he had to say and think overshadowed any secrets he was harboring. But what was disturbing, and suspicious, were footprints outside the window brightly illuminated by a full moon. Fresh ones, apparently, as the torrential rain in the early evening had washed out anything else in the ground, which had now been converted into a sheet of mud. The footprints led to the woods, which though under a bright moon, were too thick to discern anything in them except bush, and hiding places for whoever wanted to linger there.
With flashlight in hand, under a moon that decided to hide again behind the clouds, Harvey. His fear of the dark was nearly as intense as his fear of being drafted into the American, Russian or even Canadian Army. Yet, in the bold spirit of whatever poem it was the bird forced him to memorize, Harvey pulled the microphone out of its cord then ventured off into the woods to find out who the technology wizard who made the mountain ‘magical’, the cookoo clock clairvoyant, and his private bedroom an interrogation room. The next thing he saw was dark, muck in front of his eyes.
“So, where are you?” Harvey said into the now cordless microphone as he pulled himself out of the mud and sloshed his way into the dimly illuminated woods . “But more important, WHAT are you, Grandpa Spirit Helper Ghost Hologram? What the fuck do you want from or with me?” Harvey inquired of the wind blowing through the trees, and the un-seeable beings whose shape they hid so cleverly and loyally, his clenched fist holding onto one of the probably many microphones he extracted from the back of cookoo clock in the manner of a stand up comic grabbing the onstage mic by neck.. “We’re going to have a talk! In MY universe. ‘Cause I’m the director of this movie. I’m in control of—“
“—nothing, not anymore,” Harvey heard from a high pitched voice behind him. “Neither of us are in control of this place,” Wanda continued.
“Go back to bed, Wanda,” Harvey said with a calm but assertively paternal voice. “This is personal!” he grunted.
“As it is with me too,” Wanda fired back, with her shaking hand showing him a microphone identical to the one in Harvey’s fist. In her backpack was a metal rod of some sort sticking out of an over-packed base. “There was one in my room too.” She presented Harvey with a mic that looked similar to his.
Harvey noted the Russian writing on the back of Wanda’s bug. “Made in the USSR?”
“And yours?” Wanda asked.
Harvey turned over the listening detecting device, forced to believe what his eyes told his brain, and what his mind could not ignore as yet another secret that he had been ‘protected’ from. “My bug was made in the good old USA. Specifically, the factory in Passaic, New Jersey where my father works as, so he says, an assembly line schlep.”
“Elevated to a higher position by, no doubt, my father, and his Black Op associates.”
“Who,” Harvey replied, forced to face another very real possibility. He turns to Wanda, staring into her shivering. “Connected me to you somehow, in Vahalha? With you as one of the employees in this underground, whatever the fuck it is that’s…”
Wanda lowered her head, and eyes.
“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” Harvey replied, sadness and anger competing for superiority between his finally opened up ears.
“It was…another one of those divine coincidences,” Wanda provided by way of explanation, with eyes that seemed sincere. If one connected them to the heart and not the logical brain of course.
“Initiated by who?” Harvey pressed. “Which of the patients or healers here does NOT have our mental or spiritual health in his, or her interest? And which ones are not telling me about!?”
“I don’t know!” Wanda barked back, her face turning beet red, a flow of tears from her terrified eyes pouring down her cheeks. “And how Cuthand is behind this, I don’t know that either.”
Needing to believe that Wanda was telling the truth, and knowing that forcing her to tell the truth would be the most ineffective way of finding it out, Harvey approached her, slowly. He extended his arms outward, inviting her to come into a supportive embrace. She did so, but with her back turned to him.
“What do they want?” Harvey enquired. “This team of Russian Reds, Injun Redskins and Red, White and Blue American yahoos.”
Finally, she turned around, facing him, soul to soul. “I don’t know,” she stated, having collected herself. “But I do know that what they really want is something far above our understanding, or knowledge. Some kind of Fire that even Promethius wasn’t willing to give to a cold, shivering and starving humanity. Something up there,” she continued, pointing up the mountain. A gesture that was choreographed by Life with the moon emerging from behind the clouds, its light illuminating the peaks above the ‘forbidden to morals’ zone. “Beyond that barrier or rocks just above the last tree line, which no one has crossed and returned from. Not alive, anyway. ”
Harvey looked up to mountain. What scared the shit out of Wanda seemed to becon him to approach. “I’m going up there, and I’m coming back Alive.”
“No!” Wanda gasped, pulling Harvey into a loving and locked embraced. “I don’t want to lose you too,” she pleaded, seeing memories of real people behind her glassy eyes.
“We’ll lose a lot more if we don’t find out what’s up there. Or if I don’t anyway.”
Pulling himself away from the most loving embrace Wanda ever offered or gave him, Harvey sets out to head up the mountain. “While you deal with the next set of
Guests, patients or marks who…”
“No!” Wanda pleaded.
“Yes,” Harvey countered, his back turned to Wanda, his stare focused on a required Quest.
“No,” Wanda protested.
“Why?” Harvey said, turning around towards his terrified beloved to offer her a sane perspective, or a comforting lie.
Looking at the gate to the hotel, she blurted out something in Russian. ‘Papa’ was the only thing he understood about the fearful and defiant rant. But that was enough to explain what that Ruskie gibberish meant without any need of a dictionary.
One of Harvey’s accidental abilities that got him neither fame nor fortune was his ability to read lips. He couldn’t discern the literal meaning of the Russian spoken from the man tall, muscular, handsome grey haired fox who was the picture of eternal perfect senior citizen health and, framed with a suit that featured a US and Soviet anthem on its $300 lapel, immeasureable wealth. But he could figure out what Papa Petrovitch was saying to his daughter.
“The man whose sperm has contaminated half of my genes wants me to come home with him,” Wanda translated. “And won’t take no for an answer this time.”
Backing up Petrovitch’s fatherly request was a very lawyerly clad Cuthand. And behind both of them a small army of black sedans and Police cars, supported from the rear by US Army Reserve troops.
“No! I won’t go home with you, now, or ever! I know what and who you really are, ‘Comrade’ Ivan!” Wanda defiantly yelled out to the All American looking Soviet KGB mobster in Russian, then English. Making her point known, the champion of nonviolent resistance against all armed authority pulled the bottom portion of the metal rod in her backpack out, pointing the business end of a weapon at her father. An antique Cossack hand rifle used in the failed Pugachev revolts of 1774 which was more bold in its metallic artwork than it was expressive in its power to deliver anything but noise beyond a fifty yards.
“My dear demented daughter,” Harvey read clearly on Papa Ivan’s lips with a ridiculing chuckle. “Who I thank you for finding, Chief Cuthand.”
“No problem, Ambassador Petrovitch,” the newly elected, by perhaps a real majority or perhaps by ballot box adjustments, chief replied.
Approaching from behind Cuthand was a familiar looking man in a 25 year old size 34 waist US Army uniform tightly buttoned around a beer belly that was at least 38 inches fat. “And I apologize to both of you gentlemen if my son gave you any trouble.” Harvey’s father said. “Who’s gonna pay big time for whatever he did,” he pledged to his Comrades. “Or is thinking about doing!” he said, delivering with his eyes that promise to Harvey.”
Behind all three partners in slime, each of the enforcers readied their weapons for attack. The sun decided to make an early presence, shedding hard, cold light into the deep blue sky.
“OK…This is the part where I tell you everything is alright, and mean it, Wanda. That
the gods, God or ME will provide, Wanda,” Harvey blurted out as he assessed
the options, scanning the troops forming an inescapable semi-circle. “Wanda?” he said
again, reaching out with his left hand to pull her into him, then the right, noting that she
was not there. Daring to look behind him, Harvey saw Wanda run into the woods, with
the antique Cossack rifle. She left behind something more deadly, and potentially
“Use it, now! Or lose everything!” she warned Harvey regarding an AK47, the most durable and blessed weapon in the Soviet or, for that matter, any army during WWII. “A warning shot! They will fuck off! Please!”
“Ok…I will,” Harvey said. “Please do away,” he warned the intruders. “I’m firing some warning shots. Which by law I’m allowed to do if anyone comes on the property uninvited. Warning shots that aren’t gonna hurt anyone or anything. OK?”
“If you can find the trigger on anything except your penis, Kimosavi,” Cuthand yelled out, with a ridiculing grin. Everybody, including Ambassador Ivan laughted at the joke. The loudest appreciator of the pun was Harvey’s dad.
Locating the real trigger on the real gun, and recalling that when playing shoot the rabbit, dragon or invading Nazi-Commie Army on the arcade games he did excel at as a kid, Harvey fired away. His bullets hit the mark, missing by inches doing any damage to flesh or motorized property, or clothing, as he saw it anyway. Everyone ducked for cover, except for Cuthand.
“This is sacred property. My grandfather’s property. Who’s a real Indian. Who formed his own tribe. Please, go. I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Harvey pleaded. “Did I hurt anybody?” he asked. “I’m sorry if I hurt anyone. Or caused any damage. If I did, I’ll pay for it.”
“With your life, sure shot! For putting a hole into this very expensive coat!” Ivan said, standing up, pointing to a hole on the sleeve of his oversized overcoat.
“And mutilating my very expensive car!” Harvey’s Dad added, pointing to a scratch on the hood of his Stingray that a touch of paint and epoxy could easily fix. “TEN years in the Army Stockade of MY choice, you draft dodging coward!”.
“I’ll pay for the damages,” Harvey said after which he pulled out his wallet, placing the monetary contents of such into a bag that accompanied the AK47 ammo belt. He throw it out, past the armed perimeter. “Now, please go away. We have guests here who…”
“Are well armed in body, mind and spirit,” the ‘reincarnation’ of Leonitas, the Spartan King who died with his fellow 300 Comrades against an Army of 10,000 Persians at Thermopolae said as he appeared, with maybe functional or maybe ornamental spear in hand as he planted himself beside Harvey to the right. He pulled out a bow from his back and fired two rounds into the ground, halting the advance of the ‘real world’ troops.
“And the Fire Power in the defense of Freedom, General George,” a Revolutionary War hero who neither history nor Harvey knew about asserted, supporting Harvey’s left flank, armed with a musket that he fired in between the two arrows at a small tree, which formed a ‘do not cross’ line. That was admired by all of the 20th century troops, including their three self-appointed generals.
While Norman Ranselhoff, a suburban librarian, loaded up his musket for another round, Harvey contemplated what it would have been like being General George Washington. And what the aristocratic and autocratic leader of the American Colonial Army would have really done to a soldier in his ranks who dared to call him ‘General George’ instead of General, Sir or Your Excellency.
While considering those options, a female Annie Oakly, or perhaps very feminine looking Calamity Jane, ran up and aimed her rifle at the troops. The 22 rifle that at best could barely put a hole into a tin can took out one of the two flood lights which the back line of Army Reservists attempted to put in place. The other fell down, illuminating very clearly to Harvey what Ivan was saying with his lips, and meaning with his eyes.
“I was told that this would be a simple legal transaction,” Petrovitch said to his First Nations partner. “The three of us just showing up with a pen.”
“Which is still more mighty than the sword,” Cuthand replied, after which he motioned for all of the cars and transport trucks to back away. They did, quickly. Retreating back ten feet, then twenty, then after Cuthand made the final decision on the matter, turning around, heading home, in an orderly manner.
Running to Harvey were two other spirit patients, or perhaps resident sages, outfitted in mixed identities. They grabbed hold of other weapons in bag left by Wanda, without the permission of go-ahead from Harvey, who tried to stop them.
“So, we’re under ideological attack, aye?” one of them, the Italian Renaissance painter–mountain woman inquired in with a heavy Newfoundland diction, .
“Those weapons aren’t toys, Senior Grizzly,” Harvey warned the mixed gender experimentor.
“By an enemy we’ll pursue and destroy!” cried out a pussy-whipped, yearning to be shit on by everyone, terrified of anything that moved on a hoof handyman, transformed into Teddy Roosevelt in a Rough Rider uniform, skillfully galloping in Wanda’s horse and turning into a dramatic halt, appended by the steed raising his two front feet in the air. “Onward lads! Bully!” he declared, brandishing a cap pistol. After which Teddy’s hat fell off, followed by the toupee under it falling to the ground, then the follically challenged bearer of such joining it.
“Gosh damn it,” Teddy Roosevelt, AKA Tim Rubinstein said in the whiniest Longgg Islannnttee accent Harvey had ever heard, or fallen into speaking himself. “I busted my hip…And leg…And five hundred dollar hairpiece….At a resort where I was guaranteed that no harm would come to my body, as my Mind got healthy and soul got expanded. I’m suing you, Mister Millhouse. YOU are responsible for all of this.”
At the time, young Harvey didn’t know that the latter statement would become a compliment, a recognition of the most significant thing he ever did, or became, in his entire life.
Doctor JW Jones’ research about Harvey Millhouse in his American youth didn’t match his becoming what he emerged into in Canada. Listening to the little voice in his gut this time, instead of the logical construct between his ears, JW showed Old Harvey a copy of the High School Graduation yearbook. It featured the only child, most probably carnal accident’, of Harvey’s mismatched parental units with naïve sort of longish hair nerd, a sort of happy smile on his face and sort of ‘going nowhere and being ok with that.’ The printed inscription under the photo said it all.
“So, how did you get from being, according to your fellow students, ‘most likely to remain likable’ to.’?” JW enquired of Old Harvey. “And then become this,” he continued, pulling out a newspaper article showing Warrior Harvey in his youth, his just over the ears hair now straggling below the shoulders. The face showing war-paint and real blood. The nerdy eyeglasses on his non-offensive nose replaced by naked ocular portholes breathed out the kind of fire that out intensified Frank Zappa, Nicola Tesla and Rasputin, combined.
“Pictures from the past can be deceptive,” Old Harvey replied, his gaze remaining fixed on the high plateau and peak of mountain. The only structure at the hotel site that still maintained its former appearance and, apparently, glory. “But what we see in the present, as the present, is eternal,” he said as he turned around to take note of Anna boldly stride-dancing into the bullet-hole ridden, spider-webbed lobby, humming variations on Beethoven’s most atonal string quartet in ways that made you think with your head rather than bob it in time to the music. “As sometimes what we see on the outside does reflect what it on the inside.”
JW turned around, daring himself to see what Anna had transformed herself into. She had shed her police uniform, having put on and absorbed by naturally torn bell bottomed jeans adorned very personally with beads, a fringed, low-cut peasant blouse with long, free flowing sleeves, and hair which was held into a very asymmetrical doo with flowers and ivy. “So, you did find Wanda’s trunk of clothing,” the still on the job investigative Doc said to his normally conservative, ex-military girlfriend who had gone AWOL from everything he had known her to be. “And….some of her contraband.” He noted, sniffing the herbs in the open medicine bag hanging from her belt which she mixed in with a cup of tea. “But if you don’t mind, we still have to interview and get the truth out of—“
“—The nowhere-mench, working class schlep who became the leader of the revolution,” she interjected, after which she continued to do even more radical improvisations of Beethoven’s most erratic music.
“Leader of the Evolution, I was hoping,” Old Harvey confessed, and related with life-tired eyes. “Which..” he glanced at Anna, a youthful glow returning to his face. “Looks good on you, Anna.”
“Wanda,” the sort of spitting image of Old Harvey’s memory of Wanda said. Such made him smile fondly, enjoying rather than retreating from the tenderness. Wanda-Anna then turned to JW. “We have to let Harvey go. He’s a good man.”
“Despite what you, Anna, as Wanda wrote about me?” Old Harvey challenged a confused young Anna in the present, and elusive Wanda in absentia. “What was it?
I sucked at being an asshole. I was a horrible manipulator and…”
“….You already punished yourself for moral transgressions more than any God or gods could do, so by default, that left being ‘virtuous’ as your only mode of operation,” came out of Anna’s mouth with what seemed to be a very authentic Moscovite accent, from, apparently, a place her brain had just discovered.
“Not exactly word for word, but…close enough,” Old Harvey replied, his outer lips cracking open his face into revisiting a host of emotions and experiences which he still seemed intent on keeping secret. But which JW had to find out to break the spell Revolutionary Harvey’s activities still held on the world. The spell that had overcome Anna. And the strange sort of needed yet unwelcomed energy that JW felt coming into himself now. JW looked yet again at the outlier psych patient who had now become an enigma who, if not figured out, would be a danger to himself, and so many others, particularly as there was a resurgent national and global interest in him, and his ‘revolution.’ A revolutionary who could, as JW now felt but couldn’t verify, could see through him, his present thoughts, his past still unopened baggage and his future destiny.
“Well…whatever he is,” Wanda-Anna said, rolling her r’s and exaggerating her e’s in a Ruskie accent, to a very confused or, as he liked to think, intellectually challenged, JW. “He’s more Alive, but A, than you ever were, or I was before I tried these herbs,” Anna-Wanda continued, tasting another pinch of the powder in the medicine pouch. “Hey, Doc, you gotta try this.”
JW snatched the medicine bag from Anna’s waist, violently. He smelt it. “Mind altering, or potentially destroying, ‘medicinals’” JW said as he let searched his olfactory memory for something that seemed very familiar. Then finally recalling a street name, chemical description and stoiciometric diagram that matched the aroma. “Yes, specifically—“
Old Harvey pulled out a sealed candy chips from his pocket, identical to those in Anna’s medicine bag. “Fructose, Corn Syrup, Red Dye number 4, artificial flavors…A placebo, Anna. Whatever you feel, it’s coming from inside of you, not from the outside, or from anything you ingested, this time anyway. Like it was for Wanda too, as you intuit or, with your metaphysical mind, maybe recall that day when we…”
“But?” a deflated Wanda-Anna said, in Anna’s voice and diction. “This can’t be just a placebo.
“There HAS to be something else in this,” JW asserted.
“Now, no,” Old Harvey replied, staring straight at JW, like either a great liar or someone who is telling the deepest truth. “There is nothing mind altering in that medicine pouch now.”
“But then?” JW pressed.
“I don’t know, really,” Old Harvey related, and confessed.
“So what did you know?” young Anna begged of Old Harvey, allowing her body to fall into a seat next to him. “Please tell me. I, we, can handle it.”
“Yes, we can,” JW added, not sure if ‘we’ included himself and Anna, or other entities that seemed to be hanging around the room in the dust that never seemed to clear. He took grabbed hold of a three and a half legged chair, propped it up so that it could support his weight, and settled in to hear what this ‘Elder-whatever’ had to say. Giving out the vibrations, for real this time, that old people needed to feel if they were to be really open with young folk.
Old Harvey seemed pleased by being asked rather than pressed. But as for the story he was about to tell, it seemed to be one of those confessions JW had heard from geriatric psych patients on their death beds, or hospital rooms where they imagined they would emerge from with beating hearts and breathing lungs. Finally, after several intense glances at the mountain, and even more intense looks into his two interviewers’ faces, Professor Harvey continued the lesson.
“Things got… intense,” he stated, fixed into the void or vault behind a blank stare. “And a lot more…assertive than I ever wanted, or planned for,” he continued, gazing over the weather beaten wreckage outside the window that had once been a flourishing hotel for advancement of Spiritual and Intellectual Enlightenment. “But as for what happened here…down below the mountain anyway, well…the tables did turn around, once Wanda’s articles about what was happening, and me, got around.”
Reel (as recorded between JW and Anna-Wanda’s ears) 6
Like the song most readers and listeners to this don’t remember goes, ‘The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn, Nobody’s Right if Everybody’s Wrong’. This face off between the reinforced Establishment and the activated Alternative Society collected many voices, and agendas. Surrounding the mountain were well armed police, US Army troops ‘rented’ from the local NATO base between maneuvers, and several non-uniformed enforcers on Chief Cuthand and Ambassador Petrovitch’s private payroll. On the other side of the line were all of the hotel guests and staff, as well as those who came up for a one day encounter with ‘the man’ who camped out in tents, trailers or overcrowded hotel rooms with, usually, full permission of the guests already there. Signs were abundant of course, including ‘Save the Porthole to Peace’, Preserve the Center of the Universe’ and ‘Visiting ETs are people too.’ Between and among them all were media people from no less than 20 television stations and 8 international news agencies with cameras poised to catch every colorful comment, or dramatic break in the tension about to break between the wall of police and soldiers, and the unarmed peaceniks who put flowers in the barrels of their guns, before they were pushed back behind the lines of their well armed protectors forming a circle around the hotel and the mountain behind it.
The eventual stand off between the Establishment Moguls and the Revolutionary Idealists was of course not without musical accompaniment. And as Wanda’s writing was so appealing, popular and read, that musical complementation came from no less than four top twenty rock bands, featuring as the main attraction none other than Brad Youngblood, rock star idol who topped all of the charts, no matter who was doing the tallying of numbers of records sold or radio plays.
To be fair, and accurate, Youngblood’s ensemble had a driving beat to it that you could shake your fist with, dance to or just absorb on its own terms. With Revolutionary Barbie Babes who could woe even the most patriotic and loyally married ROTC jock into joining the Peace and Love movement.
Isolating himself, donning a hooded medieval Monk’s robe so as to see and not be seen, he looked at the elitist rock star who had shit on his music, his writings and his desire to lead some kind of significant Revolution. Of course, Youngblood’s new song about Harvey was composed to sell more records, and as a carrier for music that intended to have listeners indulge in mindless romantic mischief under the sheets rather than real life revolution in the world outside of the bedroom. And the sellers of overpriced tie dye tee shirts bearing Harvey’s name and picture kept over 90% of the profits for themselves rather than contributing any money to Harvey, the newly arrived guests who really needed shelter and food, or the hotel budget itself for building what would happen if he really DID win the stand-off with Petrovitch, Cuthand and his father. But such was Harvey’s choice.
Another choice Harvey found himself making was ignoring a reader who was particularly absorbed by his original writings. Why Emily Halson, First Nations corporate classy bitch under Cuthand’s payroll during the day, and probably body under sheets at night, now donned a hippie peasant blouse cluttered with every anti-Capitalist button for sale, with work jeans that had been converted to bell bottoms, he did not know. But the representative of the ‘in crowd’ seemed interested in his books. Two more pages and she would no doubt be interested in him. And on his terms. “Yes, I’ll wait for her to come to me, all the way!” he said to himself. “Better for me, her and…well, Wanda says that open relationships are the only real ones. So, it’s my obligation to have open relationships with everyone who is open to it,” he continued, looking at the invisible cookoo clock that he allowed himself to carry with him. The bird seemed to agree.
It was indeed party atmosphere on the Revolutionary side of the line. And those maintaining the semi-permeable blockade around it were getting paid for their time, trouble and obedience. An all around win-win situation, until someone brought out a cart of pies from the kitchen, rolling it out to the armed potential assaulters.
Harvey smelt the pies, and tasted them, as it was his right, and responsibility to do so. His nose detected no loco weed, his tongue no trace of LSD, and his eyes saw the same things before he tasted the pies as he did after wards. “What are you going to do with these very delicious and nutritious pies?” he asked the newly arrived baker, who somehow drove or bribed her well provisioned van through the blockade.
“Feed the less fortunate, of course,” the 18 year old idealist with big, blue eyes and unkempt hair down to her waist replied with a sincere smile.
“And there are many of them here today,” Harvey said, looking towards the pockets of illegal underpaid Mexican immigrants and American born homeless unfortunates who had joined the rebellion, having nothing to lose. “The most suffering souls should be served first,” he said.
“Right on!” the baker said, loading two custard cream pies onto a home made catapult, flinging it off in the direction of the soldiers, Cops and press. Just as they was about to land into Cuthand’s smug mug, the redskin lawyer ducked, causing the pies to land squarely into face of Harvey’s father, and Petrovitch. Both pulled out their pistols, prepared to use them, most particularly after being laughed at by the protestors.
Cuthand threw towels from the snack cart towards his two partners in slime with his right hand, pointing his two cronies at the newly arrived camera people. Harvey’s Dad held his tongue. Petrovitch used it to his advantage.
“Ah, humor!” he exclaimed with a big, wide smile. “The best medicine” he continued, dipping his finger onto his pie covered face. “Delicious medicine. My compliments to the chef,” he said, bowing to the baker. “Who will die a thousand deaths in MY ovens,” he whispered to Cuthand.
“Delicious mind altering medicine that’s probably toxic,” Harvey’s Dad grunted, spitting out the components of his.
“Perhaps,” Cuthand whispered to them as he smiled to the camera, dabbing strips of the pie into his own face, like war-paint. “But for now we place nice. Later we play effective.”
“So where’s Guru Harvey?” Harvey’s sperm donor asked Cuthand after the reporters decided to film more of Youngblood’s newest record being performed.
“And my daughter, who he corrupted,” Petrovitch demanded to know of Cuthand, and be known by his once trusted Caucasian American partner in the quest to obtain full rights to the very mountain, and equally useful adjoining properties.
“We still don’t know where she is,” Cuthand related, and confessed. “But I have some plants on their side of the barricade who will find out.
“And if they are converted, corrupted or found out, it’s your scalp on MY lodgepole, Tonto,” Petrovitch asserted to a terrified Cuthand as he discretely grabbed hold of Cuthand’s long , thick pony tail. “Understood?”
From a patch of high ground bush, with the aid of spy glasses, Harvey saw it all. He didn’t relish in seeing dissention between the three men who sought to destroy his Vision, but he knew it was necessary. And he thanked the baker for catalizing it.
Meanwhile, Harvey made his way through the alternative economy marketplace which had grown around this newest center of the universe, looking for a still illusive Wanda. But though her physical presence was absent, her effect was everywhere. Either that or someone else wanted, or needed, Harvey to be famous. And it was not only in the lyrics of Youngblood’s newest song about him, the lyrics being…
Harvey was a wanderer who sees more than we do
For anyone to ignore him now, he’d would be such a fool.
His books and music will be what we all can build on now
The first time that I saw him all I could say just ‘wow’
Next to the stage, Harvey’s books were on sale. Books that previous to this he could not give away. Without Harvey’s knowledge, or permission, the printed expression of his inner soul and highest function of mind were autographed by the author personally with cover. Copies remaining were marked up several time, business people in psychedelic tee shirts bearing Harvey’s likeness as guru warrior, collecting money for them. As the crowd goes into ‘Wow. Wow Wow’ in group ‘non-think’ worshiping mode.
But there were other books on sale that were even more popular, thinner, and less expensive. Monk Harvey, still unrecognized, picked up one of the over illustrated copies to the left of the stage. No one was less qualified to write ‘Harvey Millhouse Explained’ than Brad Youngblood, but his name on the cover of the books highlighting Harvey’s quotes, padded with his own commentary, made the themes and messages in Harvey’s original pieces ‘cool’, and palatable for the masses. The ‘cliff note with commentary’ version of Harvey’s original works were not all that untruthful, but at least they didn’t lie in the first few pages. But then the half truths became lies, and gross misrepresentations.
“That book about Harvey Millhouse is crap, my soon to be good friend,” Nick, as Socrates, said as he pulled the discount priced book from Harvey’s hand. “Here,” the modern day Jew who was perhaps truer to Socrates’ idealized nature than the Old Greek was in reality. “Take this money, and buy the original works by Harvey Milhouse. They have longer sentences than the book about him does, with several thoughts in them that may seem to contradict each other but, you will be rewarded in drachmas that you can take to any Spiritual Bank if you allow yourself to absorb his truths and suggestions.”
“OUR truths and suggestions, Socrates,” Harvey said to Nick, allowing him a view of his face under the hood. “And the truths that, maybe really are hiding from us up there,” he continued, looking up at the ‘Magic Mountain’. “If we access it the Right and appropriate way.”
“So you ARE a believer in the gods?” Nick asked Harvey. “The Enlightened beings there?”
“Why not. It doesn’t harm to believe in them. As long as they also believe in us, as you well know from your time in Ancient Greece.,” Harvey said to his even closer friend.
Nick’s old, bearded face broke into a fond smile, as he seemed to recall how, according the Harvey’s eleventh fiction based on possible fact book, ‘The Greek Gods Honest Truth’. Which told a tale about how Socrates, Hippocrates and the current Mayor of Athens worked with the extra-terrestrial humanoids passing themselves off as gods to avert a plague initiated by other ETs that threatened to destroy the great civilizations below Mount Olympus. And do even more harm to the ‘invisible’ ‘Commander’ Zeus et all, who finally learned that being compassionately ‘human’ was a far more rewarding and sustainable virtue than being technologically powerfully.
“Yes, I remember it well, when we mortals and the gods worked together in service of Spirit, big S, that is in us all,” said Socrates. “That we can access, on a good day anyway. But,” he continued as 60 something Nick. “You’re supposed to, these days, not trust anyone over thirty.”
“And trust anyone who’s…Ancient,” Harvey gave voice to, his stare held captive by the mountain, feeling but not quite understanding the truth about what he had said.
The mountain answered, or, as Harvey’s right brain said, he had predicted with the vibration receptors in his feet something about to burst open from it.
“Which is very fortunate for us, Comrade General,” the old die hard card carrying Socialist said to Harvey. “And them,” Nick continued, pointing to new arrivals to the Revolution Festival as they met and were about to butt heads with those who had arrived earlier. Nick then pulled out from under his robes the latest plans the two had devised for the protection of the hotel and its new guests, and inhabitants, and routes of escape should things get ugly. He boldly strode walked over to the over-crowed tent city to convert a war over who gets to camp out where, and whose political agenda gets championed the loudest to the press.
Meanwhile, Harvey looked up at mountain, forcing his tired eyes to stay wide open. As he did, the slopes above shot out fire and an arch of golden light from the depths of the earth. “Just another light show, folks, Nothing to worry about,” Nick assured the mix bag of Black Power, Red Power, Green Power, Woman Power and Buddha Power inhabitants of the rural tent city.
But there was one thing that did worry Harvey. The footsteps in the dirt leading to the Eastern train up the mountain that he recognized as being from Wanda. Or, worse, someone who had stolen her trademark Siberian-made hiking boots. Assuming and praying it was the former, Harvey followed them, shedding both his Monk’s robe and, so he hoped anyway, his fear.
Harvey scaled the ever steepening route up that forbidden and warned against trail, newly arrived clouds sent down local periodic bursts of water and oak-cleavaning thunderbolts, which tore off large branches that fell onto the ground, then into it through pits of quicksand that lingered under the grass. The smell of natural thunder seemed to be replaced with sulferious gas, or maybe something else Harvey thought he recalled from chemistry class.
“Wanda!!! Wanda! It’s me. Harvey!” the unintentionally elected Philosopher King screamed out to the slopes, the sky and the earth as the sound of revelry of his kingdom turned into nothing, then merged with a deafening Silence. “Who you’re avoiding again? Who’s been trying to find you for the last week?
“Really loves you, but not the way you love her,” an voice rang out, echoing in three directions as once off he shimmering rocks above. “But that’s okay,” Grandpa Thundercloud said as he emerged from behind a clump of blazing illuminated trees that didn’t burn, clad in authentic centuries old Native garb, his oversized coat held in place by an overstuffed electrician and construction workers’ tool belt. “It’s that way even in the best of relationships.” He made his way to a circle of common looking rocks, checking an electric wiring map of some sort on route, then knelt down outside it, listening with what looked like a Star Trek recorder to what was happening outside and inside it.
Not knowing, or caring what dimension or state of mind he was in, Harvey pressed his departed ‘Comrade Grandfather Sage’ for real answers that mattered most, walking toward the ‘repair man’ in charge of the newest ‘center of the universe’. “I’m looking for Wanda, not you. Or the gods. Apologies if I hurt your or their feelings by not going all ‘Moses discovering the burning bush’ on you. Her footsteps leading to…”
Harvey’s words and advance were halted by Grandpa grabbing him on the shoulder, and pulling him very painfully away from entering the circle.
“What the fuck are you doing?” :Harvey yelled back, .
“Pulling you away from one of the portholes, otherwise known as a medicine wheel, the wheel being something we Injuns did discover before Palefaces got here, but decided not to use, for carting around out shit anyway, because wheels only work on flat, concrete roads, not snow or swamps,” Grandpa explained, noting something odd about the reading at the one o’clock position of the circle, adjusting the rock at that point so as to keep the machinery happy.
“Pulling me away with hands that I felt for the first time, very painfully,” Harvey noted. “And I’m not stoned, drunk, or sleeping. I think anyway,” He pulled his aching ass of the very hard ground, then checked to see if he could see his reflection in the mirrored surface of his watch did reveal his own image. “Which means that…If I’m not dead, you aren’t either.”
“Not dead by a long shot,” Grandpa said, defiantly as he did the rounds on the medicine wheel.
“And…what’s with the 20th century tool belt and star trek whatever. And the stone, but not stoned, age outfit?” Harvey pressed.
“Necessities,” Grandpa said by way of procedural explanation regarding the tools in his belt. “And memories of being, well…” Grandpa replied, fondly, from the other side of the brain, and soul.
More smoke and lights burst open from the hard ground, which started to get soft and collapse. They made holes in the earth, nearly swallowing up a bird’s nest. Grandpa grabbed hold of nest with one hand, desperately closing a pipe under the ground with the other one as more holes opened up. “And long before that Mexican vacation from having to be ‘me’ in Upstate New York, I was…Mechanos,” Grandpa Whatever related as placed the bird on a safe platform, then tending to plugging up another hole about to open up in the solid ground.
“Mechanos,” Harvey noted, recalling the PBS aired, of course BBC made, 1967 documentary he was assigned to watch by a very temporary substitute teacher and subsequent book reading he did on his own. “The Teslian inventor in Ancient Greek who made a deal with the Priests. He engineered light shows, thunder blasts and earthquakes that made it look like the gods really DO live inside the temple, and talk directly to the Priests. A master showman, and conman, who perpetuated myths and collected big bucks for the special effects he did in secular plays, who—“
“—Had his reasons for doing what he did!” Grandpa blasted back, after which the earth under the bird nest started to sink.
Harvey rescued the nest from sinking into an underground abyss that probably had no shortage of bones from unassuming birds and lower mammals, as well as the skeletons of two explorers who wanted to find out the truth about the gods, and themselves. But as for the present, all Harvey saw in the hole that emerged, was a network of pipes, wires and rotating gears. One which sparked, emitting a small fire that Grandpa Mechanos Thundercloud dived down to put out by adjusting a defective circuit.
“Yes, there was that necessary business with the priests, but—“ the Old Engineer-inventor said, completely oblivious to the third degree burns on his hands.
“—the priests stay rich and powerful,” Harvey said, placing the bird nest gently within the branches of solidly grounded tree, discovering that the chicks had decided to emerge from their eggs and say hello to the world they had heard but not seen. “The people get to believe in the illusion of the Gods, and—–“
“With the money he, or maybe I, got, it was possible to build irrigation systems and rock breaking sonic plows so they could grow crops!” Thundercloud blasted back, pulling out the least rusted wrench in his toolkit to commence negotiations with a busted gear in a complex pulley system. “And so those people could live in houses that don’t melt in the rain. Use roads made by machines instead of the backs of slaves who were beaten to death. And when they get sick—“
“—I know, work with Hippocrates and the other docs who believed in medicine
rather than prayer to fight diseases. And engineer hygiene through sewage systems—“ Harvey interjected, wanting to believe such was true.,
“With better tools than I have now,” Thundercloud yelled up from the underground work he had constructed, his second best wrench deciding to allow the defective bolt to remain married to the gear it was stuck on, pushing his wrist into a sharp rotor that sliced it open the skin, and perhaps some biological wires and cables under it . “Come help me with this…We need some elbow grease, and I know you aren’t as mechanically declined as you, your father or even your mother say you are.”
“What do you think?” Harvey asked the chicks. “I ‘ll go with whatever you say. Unless of course you say I’m ‘cookoo’. Cookoo for Cocoa Puffs or anyone, or anything else.”
Harvey felt raindrops falling on his head, but not like song. They were thick, brown droplets, emitted from the mother bird, perched above him. “Hey, I was just trying to help!” he screamed in panic to the Mama bird as he quickly pushed the nest further towards her, then scurried out of the way so as to not be attacked by the angry avian.
“Trying isn’t doing,” Thundercloud informed Harvey in a kind grandfatherly manner. “Get down here and help me!” he commanded, and pleaded, both at once.
Harvey looked at the Mama bird, who seemed to chirp a thank you to him, inviting him to stay for a supper of freshly caught worm. The offer was tempting, but as Harvey related in his best Avian diction, “When the gods call, gotta answer.”
“Now! Or the whole mountain is gonna blow,” Grandpa yelled up from the pit.
Upon climbing down the metallic labyrinth below the ground, Harvey was handed a too belt of his own, and pointed to various tasks to do. He self observed himself not only following his clearly not deceased Grandpa’s instructions, but was able to implement them faster than he old man, or he, thought possible. The most he was able to do in 8th Grade Shop Class was an ash tray that sort of held the remnants of used cigarettes and a water pitcher that held half of its volume if you propped it up the right way. But there was something Harvey really did need to know about. “I tried to fake my own death, too. The ‘coincidences’ that happened next nearly killed me…A joke?”
“Less talking more, working,” Grandpa Thundercloud grumbled.
“OK…Some working, some more questioning,” Harvey pressed.
“You ask me, then I ask you,” the Old Fart finally conceded the Young Fuck, after a long, pensive delay.
“Question: That cookoo clock kept me awake a lot of nights. Why did you ‘will’ it to me?” Harvey asked.
“ Because you were sleeping too much during the day,” quick reply from Thundercloud, and Mechanos. “Question: How did a ten left thumb mechanical moron like you learn to be so proficient with those tools?”
“Answer: I don’t know…Hmm,” Harvey countered, his amazement at his newfound skill turning into fear, after which he pressed.: “Question: I don’t see any writing on these pipes, that I recognize anyway. Who are you working for?”
“Answer: All of us…in the end,” the reincarnated Greek Mohawk Engineer replied with a sense of finality.
“Sure,” Harvey replied, the Old Man seeming to grow tired of revealing inner truths and, to be truthful, Harvey needing to absorb what he was fed before going to the trough for another helping of Ancient Hellenic wisdom or story-tales.
“But there is one thing I’d like to know,” Grandpa asked Harvey. “Why did you come up here? When there was so much popularity for you down below?
“To find the truth about Wanda, you, me and,” Harvey replied, self observing himself looking up at the sky. “You,” he asked Spirit, big S.”
“Right answer,” Grandpa replied with a warm, and thankful smile.
“So…Question: Wanda,” Harvey pressed, putting down his tools, demanding an answer this time.
Grandpa contemplated the matter carefully, adopting every “give me time to think about it” gesture from scratching his aged chin, to a series of ‘hmms’ appended to long pauses. Harvey’s patience ran out. Driven by anger, or assertion coming from some other emotion, he grabbed hold of the Old Man by the collar.
“Where is she!!! So help me, whatever, I’ll fucking kill you for real if you I can’t find her!” Harvey threatened, and pledged.
“If we can’t find her, you won’t have to,” the calm and somber reply.
Harvey, convinced of Grandpa’s sincerity, let him go.
Wanda’s footprints led further up the mountain, well beyond the forbidden zone that she had told Harvey about. They were easy to follow, particularly as the right imprint was firm, the left weaker and slanted, no doubt due to some kind of injury she had incurred. They led to another medicine wheel, then stopped. Her size 6 boot-prints turned into size 11 inside the circle of, to Harvey anyway, randomly arranged rocks. Still, it was a perfect circle.
“Another porthole?” a heavy breathing Harvey asked his very fit Grandfather. “To where? Other than a shoe salesman who makes you try on extra large space suit boots before lift off.”
“I don’t know,” the retort, words that rarely came out of the tall tale and Promethian hypotheses telling old man. “I really don’t. And can’t explain everything about what happens, or happened, here. I just stumbled on the place when I was looking for somewhere sane to live after my home tribe, that I did a whole lot of good for, decided to do bad to itself.”
“So to pass the time, and eon, you built, or maintain, portholes to magical universes that will appear on the other side of here?”
“It started out like that…then, it got….Complicated,” Thundercloud replies, becoming lost in himself again.
“What kind of complicated?” Harvey asked, gently this time, sneaking his way into the circle to follow wherever the footprints, or Wanda, went..
“I don’t know…But you shouldn’t go into there,” Thundercloud said, his long, strong and arthritic arm halting Harvey’s leap into the abyss, or up to the stars. “At least not before you and everyone below is ready to—“
“One step!” Harvey pleaded. “And if it gets stuck in there, you have my permission to cut it off, ok?”
“And if I don’t say it’s okay to march your way into somewhere you aren’t ready to go?” Grandpa asked. “
“Well,” Harvey said, folding his chin inside two clasped hands. “I’ll have to dance my way in.” With that, the two left footed nerd who was unable to do three dance steps without falling on the floor, even with Wanda, broke into an erratic jig, to the tune of the song Youngblood had written about him. Eluding Thundercloud, who could not follow his steps nor his direction, Harvey made his way into the wheel with his right foot, about to step in the rest of the way, when the sound of explosive bullets came out of crevice between the rocks behind him. Grandpa ducked, Harvey didn’t.
“Stop before it’s too late!” Grandpa warned, a safe two feet away from the perimeter of the medicine wheel porthole. “What you are looking to know about, and who you are about to meet, is very complicated.”
“What kind of complicated?” Harvey asked, threatening to plant his left foot where his right was not firmly planted. “Tell me now, or I’ll…”
“Go ahead, if you dare to. I can’t stop you, and maybe shouldn’t,” Grandpa Thundercloud said, anger and resolve in his tone, for the first time. “There are many other revolutionaries who are up to the task you fell into.”
“But only one Wanda,” Harvey replied, planting his shaking left foot next to his now electrically buzzed right. He closed his eyes, ready to be transported …wherever. “Only one—”
“—Wanda?” Harvey heard through the loud Silence from Thundercloud.
Harvey opened his ocular porthole, beholding Wanda emerging from a clump of bushes with a basket loaded with fresh herbs, a Russian Army issue walky tawky glued to her ear. “It’s that bad down there, Nick?” she said. “And…yes, I understand…complicated.” She hands Harvey super powered spy glassed, US Army issue, requesting that he look down below at the hotel.
Five more ‘magical explosives’ from the rocks behind Harvey blasted out, revealing themselves to be stray bullet from the real world. Bullets that Harvey could determined that nicked Thunderbolt in the arm that, but for the Old Man protecting the young herb gatherer, would have put Wanda into an early grave.
Neglecting to take cover out of a need to manufacture or experiment with that elusive virtue called ‘courage’, Harvey stood up as tall as he could, so he could get a bird’s eye view of what was happening below. The battle of insults, legal threats, pie thrusts and rotten tomatoes loaded with weed had escalated into gunfire, from both sides. “Who fired the first shot?” Harvey asked. Wanda. “Us, them or…” he turned towards Grandpa, offering him a view of the shooting match. “One of the gods’ favorite assistants up here who was working under orders to up the stakes in this—“
“—I had nothing to do with this! My goal and the goal of anything or anyone still living up here is for PEACEFUL solutions to any problem!” Grandpa blasted into Harvey’s face.
“Any casualties?” Harvey asked.
“No,” Grandpa replied. “Not yet anyway. But a whole lot of wounded, and not just between the ears.”
“So needs to know the man who should have looked after what he started down there, instead of coming up here,” Wanda blasted into Harvey’s other ear. “Who should have stayed down there.”
“Who would have, if you hadn’t run off, again, without telling me where you were going. Or told me what was really up here,” Harvey shot back at Wanda, “And what’s really in those tea leaves you collect somewhere up here and sneak into the food that, so far, I haven’t eaten. Or think I haven’t anyway.”
“And if you did, maybe you would be open to more possibilities,” Wanda barked. “And love is supposed to be about letting the other person grow bigger and better wings!”
“So she can crash at full stoner speed into a porthole to fuck knows where, or a, ya know….“
“No, I don’t know!’
“Crash into an iceberg in the sky, Wan.”
“That makes no sense, Harv. And your writing with mixed metaphors like that may make you colorful to an enlightened few, but misunderstood and left in the dust of uyour own making by the mainstream many.”
“One of those many including you now, who—“
“—-You two lovebirds can tear each other into shreds later!” Grandpa interjected, handing over the high powered spectacles to Harvey. “You two have to get down there. Now!”
“While you do what?” Harvey demanded of the Old, and as he once thought Wise, Sage as he observed what happens when political mischief bolts its way into ideological revolution too quickly.
“What he has to do to here,” Wanda replied.
“Which will save a whole lot more lives than any conventional strategy running through your head now, Comrade General Harvey,” Grandpa added.
“I can protect my people,” Harvey asserted.
“Only by bringing them up here,” the reply from the old man. “Those who you can, and who well, are going to have to be ready to live as honorable outlaws and Enlightened outcasts way ahead of their karmic schedule. The caves are well provisioned and protected. Like that mountain we fled to during the Yaqui revolt in 1926. A mountain that still hasn’t been discovered yet, or written about. Even by you, yet.”
Harvey didn’t know why, but Grandpa seemed to be speaking from a very Ancient and Real place. Besides, it was time for Harvey to make rather than write about history. With a woman for whom he felt something deeper and more complex than love. And atop her horse who had found its way up the mountain, appearing in front of Harvey’s eyes, apparently having thrown a rider off of its back, and needing another to take the reins of his mouth, and a whole lot more.
En route to the panic below, on a path delineated by a map given to him by Grandpa, Harvey and Wanda spotted a man with kind face, a white robe, the hint of a white aura around him, and that look in the eye that that knows he’s going to be have to be punished really badly for doing the right thing. “Come, follow me!” Hershel Rabinowitz, former CEO of the most vicious Investment Firm in Boston, who had given back all he had stolen with interest since his realization that he was Jesus in a past lifetime, said to his followers as he worked his way towards a medicine wheel. “My Father is waiting for me, and he’ll be receiving you too, very soon, if you follow me,” the loving shepherd said to his flock. His feet seemed to miraculously avoid pits of quicksand, as well as artillery shells fired from below.
As he walked up the mountain amidst explosives that miraculously missed him. “Death is merely a passage to Eternal Life, if you believe in Me and the Father,” he claimed to a dozen followers who, down below anyway, questioned him on every claim to Divinity. Who now followed him, step by step, which kept them from falling into pits of quicksand, or the trajectory of long range artillery. Steps that led Hershel Jesus to a medicine wheel.
“No! You aren’t not ready yet!” Grandpa yelled from above.
“A little longer, Jesus,” Wanda cried out.
“The porthole to Paradise still needs some adjustments,” Harvey added.
“Heaven makes all things possible in It’s time,” Hershel said, approaching the circle of rocks surrounding the patch of vibrating ground. “I was able to walk on water, a little quicksand is no big deal, right Father?” he said, looking up to the sky as he stepped one foot into the wheel. “Follow me, and you will have Eternal Life,” he continued to his beloved and trusted followers, placing the second foot into the forbidden zone. A step that resulted in a large explosion which instantly burn his body to a crisp, leaving behind a pile of ashes, with a few piles of real live bone within it.
The followers decided to trust reason rather than faith, looking to Harvey for a way to save their skins, and souls. “Follow the tracks we made, up the mountain. With no diversions.” With that, an educated Harvey and thankful to be alive Wanda continued their sojourn down the hill.
Down below, the protestors flee in panic, many wounded, as Harvey saw while riding at a full gallop into the fray. Nick as a firm pacifist fighting for the oppressed, organized the retreat as best as he could, preparing a group of trucks to take them up he mountain. He held up a white flag, which was shot down at its stem, falling into the open wound of a fallen comrade. He whipped off his off white toga, which he noted had acquired sangounous fluid from a wound of his own, and pointed the people up the mountain, on foot, as the trucks and vans were now useless rubble, having been shot into oblivious by the troops.
Meanwhile, Brad Youngblood, hero of the Revolution musically and politically, hid for cover, with his enterage. Somehow, Cuthand’s private troops, Indians in Tribal Cop Uniforms, aided by Army Reservists, found their way to them. They organized a safe and, so they thought anyway, unnoticed evacuation of the pop mogul’s peeps. Getting their fearless leader into the well protected getable van was harder. Youngblood had a deathgrip on a post under the stage, catatonic, his cool, leather pants soaked with urine.
From atop a horse that was miraculously obedient, and not shot, Wanda and Harvey organized the retreat. They fired away at the troops, in front of their feet. It halted them, for a little while. They then fired away at the vans and trucks which had been rendered useless by the troops, setting them ablaze. Meanwhile, Nick organized the retreat up the mountain. On foot, handing handing out maps to all who he could. Until another bullet found its way into him, landing him into the ground, face down into the mirror that we all have to look into one day.
Harvey dismounted, leaving Wanda on board her horse. With strength he never felt before in his feet, he ran towards the Old Philosopher, throwing Nick over his shoulder, while shooting towards, but not into, the approaching tools, taking out anything mechanical that he aimed at. And avoiding causing any harm to human flesh, at least intentionally. Doing his best to honor to honor the two mandates of any revolutionary. Point one: Make as big an impact as you can in the world. Point two: Do so by doing no, or as little as possible, harm to anyone in the process. While doing so, he observed the conversation between the trio of tricksters who each had a stake in putting down the mischief that had become revolution.
“Those bastards won’t keep their mountain,” a frustrated Cuthand growled.
“Or my daughter,” Petrovitch vowed. “And your son will hang,” he continued to Harvey’s Dad.
“After I have him decorated for bravery,” Harvey’s Father replied. “He’s finally a man,” he added, giving Harvey a thumb up. For the first time in his life.
But the father and son union was short lived. And required further challenges to become sustainable.
Meanwhile back in the world where force trumps virtue, the protestors, hotel guests ans partiers who decided to play the game for keeps ran out arrows, pop gun bullets and eventually nerve to stand their ground, despite Harvey holding his. Abandoning their vintage weapons, they pulled back into the hills, defending themselves en route with stones, apples from trees, and old vegetables many wounded as Police and Army advanced, slowly, seizing cameras from news reporters, then throwing the reporters into the paddy wagon if they were lucky, into the dirt with severely injured bodies if they weren’t. Next in line to send into the crowd was gas.
One of the protestors, a backup singer from Youngblood’s enterage who decided to practice what she sung, got shot in the foot, causing her to fell into the communal human and animal manure pile designated to be fertilizer in future years. Noting the catapolt the pie thrower had abandoned there, the brown covered lilly White beauty queen loaded it with detritous firing away at the advancing troops. Four other converted partiers joined in. It halted the assault, the wet dung forming a sticky film over their protective googles, gas masks and dark sunglasses.
Harvey waved whoever else wasn’t half way up the mountain to join her. “ Make them eat more shit! Come on…” he commanded.
Petrovitch and Harvey’s Dad remained together, ten paces behind the advancing line of mixed enforcers. A pile of landed on Harvey’s sperm donor.
“Shit!” Harvey’s Dad yelled out, in anger.
“It is bad for moral to use explatives when under attack, as it shows your enemy that you are out of control,” a still clean faced Petrovitch admonished. “But I’d expect that from you Americans who never had to face Hitler alone, when he…” The Soviet Ambassador’s diplomatic demeaner and military discipline flew out the window when a wad of pig shit landed into his smug mug. His eyes fumed with rage, after which cursed his daughter with expressions that could be heard half way up the mountain. He reached for his revolver, aiming it at the assailant, determined to put an end to her career as a marksman when he saw that it was none other than Wanda who had tossed his mental balance into chaos, and embarrassed him in front of the reporters and his men. Petrovitch held his fire, and his breath.
“I’ll teach whoever that bitch is a lesson she won’t forget,” Cuthand asserted, stepping up to a position, pulling out his revolver and taking aim at her ass as she turned her back to load on another round. “A flesh wound in an embarrassing place that—“
Petrovitch rammed his fist onto Cuthand’s wrist, causing the gun to misfire, directly at a more vulnerable place than Wanda’s ass. Wanda fell to the ground, laying there lifelessly. Petrovitch belted Cuthand in the mouth, knocking him unconscious.
Meanwhile, Harvey, possessed by rage, rushed over to Wanda, picked her up, firing a very real machine gun back at the troops. This time, the bullets did meet biological flesh. Including that of Cuthand, who fell into Harvey’s father’s arms.
“So, my son has become a real soldier,” Harvey’s Dad noted with pride. “Finally prepared to kill for a Cause instead of just being willing to die for one.”
“A Cause that won’t involve my daughter,” Petrovitch growled, pistol whipping Harvey’s father in the jaw. “Or you!” he grunted at his two now fired business partners. “You saw what Millhouse did!” he yelled to the reporters still watching on from the paddy wagon. “Shooting at soldiers and police doing their duty.” He grabbed hold of a gas mask from one of the injured soldiers. “Advance, Comrades!” he commanded as the paddies of manure catapolted their way became a barrage of cannon balls. “Masks on! Capture those rebels, Alive!” With that, Petrovitch advanced the troops himself, but not before throwing Harvey’s Dad a large knapsack filled with fresh high denomination greenbacks. “Take care of the press,” he commanded. “And any other witnesses.”
Harvey’s Father, backed by ten of the best armed ‘vacationing’ American troops he had rented from the NATO maneuvers, approached the bus loaded with the journalists who had been rounded up, and put their, for their ‘safety’ of course. While pocketing one in every ten greenbacks for himself, probably as his legally and morally justified ‘tip’, he handed each of the reporters a fistful of money, two to the ones who would be in need of medical attention, along with the ID’s that had been confiscated. “Nothing happened here, right?” he said to them. “And if it did, we know who you are live, what you value, and who you would like to live long, healthy lives, capiche?” No one inside the overcrowded bus as it was driven away.
Meanwhile, a twenty-five year old First Nations women emerged out of the woods, bringing her cameraman with her. “I’m Emily Halson, live, at a Sacred Native Mountain where a community of Enlightened Philosophers are defending themselves and their visions against impossible odds.”
From the corner of his very preoccupied eye, Harvey noted that she was his favorite fan, and convert, who had choose to buy his original works when they were on sale, passing on the less than accurate and over-illustrated ‘Harvey Millhouse Explained’ books Youngblood et al were making an economic killing on. And whose mind and soul had been transformed into Enlightenment by just one read of his favorite literary Visions.
“These bold souls are making a stand against a Corporate-funded private Army, armed with weapons such as this,” Emily continued, displaying with pride and gratitude the cover of Revolutionary Blues, bearing Harvey’s name with a large circle around it.” For thinking readers who valued universal compassion over the American obscession with for individual competition.
Though Emily was staring at the camera lens and not him, Harvey finally felt vindicated. Like maybe Jesus did at his crucifixion when he saw that there were a few people watching from secluded placed taking down notes as to what was really happening.
“A stand that Harvey Millhouse, the most human, sincere, truthful and therefore ignored visionary of his time, along with his fellow Comrades, whose Visions he made possible, were forced to make because—“
“—Cut!” Cuthand interjected, from the stretcher he was now loaded onto. “Emily I know where you live and where your parent live, and where your children live, and more about you than you want anyone to know about.” He pulled a script from his breast pocket, and a wad of cash from the one above the superficial wound on his left thigh. He requested Harvey’s Dad to give it to Emily. “And action,” he commanded as he was loaded into an ambulance.
Harvey’s uplifted heart fell back into the gutter when he heard the revised speech. “I’m Emily Halson, here, live, at an illegally obtained mountain property occupied by deluded armed Cultists led by a delusional, drug-addictive, destructive American anarchist, currently being contained by Militia and Police, who have the thankless job of preventing their destructive and delusional agenda from going worldwide…”
“Without wisdom which was so wondrously absent,” Harvey said while watching the rest of the award winning vintage tape of the First Nations Corporate Mary Magdalin who had become a Judas that JW had presented to him, forcing him to watch it. “I do believe Emily loved me, or wanted to anyway. And I think I loved, or wanted, to love her. Maybe because it was she was so picture perfect, classy, cool and she illiterates so interestingly insightfully in, but…”
The old man hesitated, fading into a blank stare. “Hey, what other words that you know start with i? I want to make this interview you think you need to do….interesting. That’s your agenda this lifetime Comrade Doctor ‘Jones’.”
“I need it to be truthful,” JW said, seeking and needing to know why he was being addressed as Comrade now, and that the validity of his Surname was in question. “The facts. Which are…as aired anyway…”
JW took out his smart phone, honing in on the bookmarked newscast that, ominously, was more relevant than he thought it would be. Particularly because of who was presenting the data, with a minimal amount of required metaphors, to the camera.
“And in local news, so called cult leader Harvey Millhouse, once known as Philosopher King Harvey, leader of the so called Olympian Mountain Revolt, in which at least three hundred so-called Visionaries disappeared, and hundreds more wounded, escaped custody today after having remained underground for forty years,” regular prime time anchorwoman Emily Halson announced on the four day old broadcast.
“She does look classier now,” Old Harvey noted as the details about his well planned escape from the Psych Ward at Albany Correctional, facilitated just as it was about to fall apart by JW coming along and drugging him for the rest of the trip. “More hair than I have left on the roof,” he said, rubbing his arthritic over the more scalp than hair covered crown of his head. “Trimmed down to a tasteful bob now, atop a tasteful body, a tastefully still fuckable body below the neck, and a tasteful—“
“—Toxic sell out or coward who makes you vomit the first time you open your mind to anything she wants you to believe,” Anna said, entering the room, looking, talking and now smelling like Wanda, the odor of horse hair, sweat and pungent herbs clinging to her skin like fog to a river. Then acting like Old Harvey’s old, departed, flame, as she grabbed hold of JW’s smart phone, smashing it into the wall with an angry fist. “There, that’s better,” she noted to the bird who now lay stuck on its side, seemingly stoned himself, half way between his haven inside the clock and lectern from which he normally spoke outside of it. “Because none of us are crazy, because, as the White Rabbit knows…”
Anna sang the lyrics to White Rabbit to the bird with more intensity than Gracey Slick ever belted it out on a concert stage or lazered into the mic at a recording session. Or so JW speculated as he felt himself drawn into the tall tales so far related by Old Harvey which seemed to diametrically oppose any published facts about the Revolt at the Mountain and its consequences afterwards. A draw that became particularly intense when Old Harvey grabbed hold of a charred three string bass guitar behind him, playing accompaniment to Wanda-Anna’s performance with the skill of a man JW’s age who became the music he was playing. A young man that the pathologically logical, linear and laconic JW, despite getting hammered at the occasional party in college, never was.
As for JW in his present situation, he had to wait out the song for more answers. Answers he needed so that when the authorities found them, which would be very soon, would put Harvey, Anna and himself into very locked wards, or holding cells where going mad occurred after you were incarcerated rather than before. A warning that Wanda, when she was still Anna, kept reminding JW about again and again.
But in the meantime, JW looked out at the grounds again, trying not to over-humanize the elements of wind, clouds and occasionally blinding beams of sunlight in this ghost town which went from buyer to buyer after its former glory. Buyers who never stuck around long enough or lived long enough to do anything with it. Nothing that the elements didn’t undo after those investors lost their money, their health or their lives at their own hands.
But, finally, the third go around of White Rabbit ended, as the cookoo bird finally fell off its branch, crashing onto the floor, incurring a broken wing, leg and lip. Anna took the bird into her hands, singing it a mournful Slavic death derge in a language JW didn’t recognize from the, as far as he knew anyway, unilingual Cop/Lover/Friend.
“So, now it’s time that you know, or are told anyway,” Old Harvey said in a relieved and assured voice to the now terrified and uncertain of everything Doc. “Reel 7, Real spelt with an a.”
Harvey led the retreat up to the hills, while carrying Wanda over his shoulders, shooting enough bullets into the approaching Army to keep them from making a flat out assault on foot. The protestors stayed low, avoiding gunfire, flame fire and, with the exception of those who came to the hotel with asthma, gas fumes. He stood high, defying it somehow, and most particularly Petrovitch, the now undisputed leader of the armada armed with rapid fire rifles, gas ejectors and flame throwers, who knew enough to follow the path his prey.
“Everyone, to the caves!” Harvey yelled out as the appearance of those holes drilled into the mountain by a force bigger than himself, or even Grandpa, came into view.
“Not to the portholes!” Grandpa added as he hobbled down to assist the retreat.
“The circles of rocks,” one of the followers of Hershel ‘Jesus’ Rabinowitz clarified, as he directed the rest of the chosen 12 in bringing down stretchers, and sending them back up the hill via a rope/pulley system Grandpa had devised.
“Stay low!” Grandpa advised the fleeing Revolutionaries, and partiers who would have to live up to that label if they wanted to survive.
“Who is that guy?” a wounded but still standing Nick asked Harvey.
“The new innkeeper,” Harvey’s reply.
“Who’s gonna take Wanda inside,” Grandpa insisted.
“I’m her protector now,” Harvey barked back. “She—“
“—Can walk on her own now,” Wanda interjected, catching Harvey off guard. She kicked him in the groin, demonstrating that claim, the stumbled onto the ground, pushing herself up on her one good leg. “I’m ok!” she asserted as Harvey bent down to pull her up. “It’s just a flesh wound.”
“That’s gonna get infected or fall off, if I don’t treat it, fast,” Grandpa warned his adopted granddaughter.
“Sure,” Harvey conceded. “But Doctor Harvey ahs to give her his own medicine first.”
Harvey kissed Wanda on her quivering lips. After feeling her essence, she pulled away from him, prematurely.
“Everything will be alright, Harvey. Just…believe, please,” the explanation for a withdraw that reeked of ultimate finality, and eternal love.
“If only we ‘will those reinforcements behind your father to go to another dimension, right?” he barked back to Wanda as they reached a position close enough to the cave to create holes in the cliffs just as big as them.
“Where are we supposed to go now?” Socratic philosopher turned military commander Nick asked Harvey.
“The, everybody, NOW!”, Grandpa yelled out as he stumbled through a fog of gunsmoke and toxic gas in front of Harvey and Nick. “While I—-“ The old man stumbled forward, rolled in the dirt, avoiding two pits of quicksand, and pulled a lever up from the ground, using every ounce of strength left in his ailing, and now badly wounded, body. Bubbling ooze emerged from the ground, fog following it. Jagged rocks shot out lightening bolts of fire.
“What the…” Harvey muttered from a disbelieving dropped jaw as he beheld the light show of this, or perhaps any other, century.
A wall of fire emerged just in front of the advancing troops. Unable to see or do anything, they ducked. Their leader, caught ahead of the fire wall, didn’t. “Onward you idiots, cowards!” Petrovitch screamed out to the troops, firing at stray soldiers and Cops who decided to turn tail and run back home.
“Explanations later,” Grandpa said with an accomplished grin, through a stream of blood from his lungs that was emerging into a river. ‘But for now. Everyone into the caves. You too, Wanda. Wanda!”
Everyone was where they were supposed to be, except Wanda, who hobbled down towards her father. “It’s me he wants,” she informed Harvey and Grandpa. “Not any of you unimportant pawns.”
Harvey’s attempts to run after Wanda were halted by a strip of quicksand that gave way, creating an impassable crevice. Nothing anyone could jump over anyway.
On the other side, Petrovitch stood alone, his gun out of bullets. His mind having lost all resemblance of functional sanity. He discovered a wound in his leg, then accepted its significance, and the need to relieve it from being overwork,. He knelt on the ground, began to cross himself, then in mid dedication to a God he probably had won more than one negotiation with, saw something shiny on the ground. He picked up the pebble, then chewed on it. “Gold!” he declared proudly, after which he sampled another. “And more gold! A mountain of gold for our pockets! Yours and mine, and for those rocket ships from ETs, you and your friends keep talking about” he continued to his daughter, stuffing the finds of his unexpected prospecting trip into his pockets, then hers. “And,” he continued, coming up another coating of yellow. “Uranium. Buckets of it. That will make you, and me, Sonia, more powerful here than any one in America or anywhere else. ”
“Which doesn’t belong to you!” Grandpa yelled out. “And must stay here!”
“So you can get rich? Or your ET friends can make a killing in the stock market? So you can share it with those deluded losers you, Harvey invited to your hotel? So they can THINK they are great again, like they THINK they were in the past? Isn’t that true, Sonia?” Petrovitch continued, turning to his daughter, after which he phased into mad, demonic laughter.
“My name is Wanda now,” the daughter of the mad and, for the moment anyway, mineral rich Russian oligarch assertively reminded her father. “But, if you need me to be Sonia, I’ll be Sonia,” she continued, her tone tender, her arms providing his shaking torso a welcomed haven which he welcomed beyond earthly measure.
“Wanda can be anyone she wants to be!” Harvey yelled down to the isolated island mountain separated by even bigger creavaces and an escalated, yet unmoved, fire wall.
“Which is someone who wants all of you up there to be…who you want, and need to be…which is only possible if I….go back home,” Wanda proclaimed.
“With me!” Petrovitch added, stroking his beloved daughter’s cheek, then holding her in a love-death grip that seemed unbreakable, physically and emotionally. “Who will be rescued by helicopter. Very armed helicopter, any time now!” He pointed up to the sky, evidence of his claim materializing seconds after he claimed it.
“Yes,” Wanda said, a mixture of fear and courage overtaking her eyes. Accepting her father’s invitation to go ‘home’. “My father and me as your daughter. No politics. No cultural agendas. No interference from your bosses, papa, or mine.”
“Including your mother,” Petrovitch replied with a condescending smirk. “Yes?” he continued, edging his way to her face to kiss her, on the lips.
“Yes…Yes…yes,,,yes…” Wanda replied, denying her father the sensation he yearned for. But offering him something else. Wanda commences singing, and dance, leading Petrovitch with her, each using their good leg more artistically than any professional dancers had wielded their two uninjured ones.
As Harvey begrudgingly felt it, the re-united couple seemed to be happy, absorbed in their own world. Nick, Grandpa and the rest of the congregation watched the dance. Some added harmony with their voices to it.
“What’s going on?” Harvey asked his two old fart mentors. “Besides depossesiong the devil, like I wrote in Revolutionary Blues, and you Grandpa, said really happened in the 1926 Yaqui Indian revolt, in the huya aniya, anyway.”
“Or maybe it’s just simple, human forgiveness and happiness,” Nick, the old philosopher wannabe who really was such now replied.
“And love?” Harvey’s biological mentor and friend advanced.
“Eros, love of body?” Nick,very much now as Socrates, postulated. “Phillos, love
between comrades? Agape, love for Spirit?”
“All of the above,” Grandpa concluded, turning his head and those of his two buds towards the summit of the mountain. “Which is part of a plan
To convert her father into becoming…” Grandpa gasped as he turned back to Wanda. “NO!!!!”
Wanda led her father to a medicine wheel, dancing herself into the circle, then bringing him in. Before Harvey could comprehend what was going on, or could stop it, they both burst into a bright light. One that was Light rather than Fire. Which disappeared within seconds,, replaced by fog. The abyss created by the earthquake miraculously filled in.
In horror, the congregation rushed towards them. As did Harvey, who tried to jump into the wheel, held back by Grandpa.
“Wanda! Come back!” Harvey pleaded to the fog as it cleared, leaving nothing in its path. “I’m coming in there to join you!”
“No it’s not your time!” Grandpa asserted with an understanding that angered Harvey rather than made him curious .
“For what? For what, goddamn it!” Harvey screamed back, finally able to free himself of his Protector’s hold, and those of the others who aided him..
But before Harvey could step into the wheel, another explosion emerged from inside the circle of very plain looking rocks. A burst of wind threw him back onto the his back, on the ‘safe’ side of the wheel. Upon recovering his breath, and senses, Harvey saw Grandpa a space craft with an open door that pulled up what looked like holograms of Wanda then Petrovitch, dropping down their bones. Wanda’s ghost hovered, lookidn downward, to Harvey anyway. While the spacecraft fired a warning shot towards the choppers which approached it, signaling the earthly gunships to turn tail and head home.
“Come back Wanda!” Harvey yelled up to apparition, which threw him a kiss, then climbed into the craft that closed tight after her entry, then warped its way up to and beyond the clouds. “Come back Wanda!” Harvey pleaded, then demanded.
“She will,” still embodied Grandpa assured his grandson.
“When?” Harvey demanded. “And her KBG, asshole, Capitalist, mobster father, who—“
“Will come back too, I’m afraid,” Grandpa answered.
“Which is me?” JW Jones said as he looked at his reflection into cracked mirror in the lobby of the hotel he vowed to own, or destroy, sensing another presence behind a face he somehow didn’t recognize as his own anymore. “It would answer some interesting questions I had about being born into a Welsh-Irish family, unable to speak any Gaelic, do any accent unless it’s East of the Berlin Wall, which was torn down soon after I was born. And feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise up in attention every time I hear thr Soviet national anthem.”
“You could have come back as cockroach,” Anna said, finally with a voice and presence that matched her current incarnation. “But you came back to work out karma with me.
“Which explains why I always felt so paternal towards you, Anna, or should I say Sonia, or Wanda?” JW said. “And I suppose I owe you an apology, Harvey for…”
The Ph.D in psychological physiology who now had to merge that with meta-physiological possibilities turned to look at his most recent professor, and revised thesis advisor. Anna pointed him towards the mountain. An old man who grew younger with each step he took upward towards the ethereal peak. Seeing Harvey with new eyes, then Anna with enlightened and activated oculars.
“You want to join him don’t you, Wanda,” JW said to the woman who he could never live without, for reasons he was only now understanding.
“Yes,” she replied, in Russian, then English. “If it is okay with you.”
“Then it is very okay with me,” Anna replied.
With that, JW recalled a distant past and contemplated a redeeming future. Seeing the love of his live liberating herself with every step she took following Old Harvey up the mountain, who merged into Young Harvey when they reached a plateau, waving hello and goodbye.
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