Neo-American Church

Chapter 29


He carried my trespass to his betters; I was stubborn; wherefore, presently upon my head and upon all heads that were dear to me, fell the curse of Rome.

Everything glittered and gleamed at the Bungalow. The place seemed stoned although it wasn’t yet. I noted that a good fire was going and there was plenty of wood. Music played from concealed speakers, controlled from a closet panel of great complexity off the library, and a tape machine had also been set up on the rug in front of the fire. The three women were wearing evening dresses, Aurora wore a blazing red dress, which suited her perfectly, but Tommy, Billy and Marco were informally attired. Sham, who looked pretty uptight but not actively malevolent, was in a Nehru-style outfit.

I hardly tasted dinner, which was served by Jack and a jumpy little Irishman named Jimmie, whom I hadn’t seen before. The Petries had Scottish accents so thick I often couldn’t understand them, and Jimmy’s Irish brogue was almost as heavy. More classics. “Central casting,” as Tim often put it, “was on the job.”

Marco looked like a tough customer all right, the very model of a modern major general. He entered into an intense discussion with Bill and it developed he was apprehensive about the trip because he had been responsible, as a magistrate, for the execution by firing squad of thirty or so of his political opponents in the last year. That was consistent with venerable customs in his part of the world but, as with a kid just back from Vietnam, there was good reason to suppose he might have a rough trip, and to feel apprehensive as well as virtuous about turning him on. In Venezuela, according to Billy, he was surrounded by armed guards and had a submachine gun at his side at all times, possibly manufactured by Numerich Arms.

We would now find out what happened to a tyrant on a trip. A common fantasy of Psychedelians, myself included, was to bomb a fascist politician in the hope of making him more aware of the nature and consequences of his actions and perhaps more humane on that account.

Well, here one was, and a volunteer at that. How would he react?

After dinner, while Suzanne and Aurora went to a bedroom to prepare the drinks (Suzanne and Aurora are preparing the drinks??), Billy set up a movie screen to one side of the room and focused a light projector on it. Pretty, shifting pastel colors appeared. Good. Bill put on a raga. Good for him. The drinks were passed with much giggling, since, tee hee, the hypodermic used for measurement had leaked and neither waitress could tell for sure who was getting what. Unthinkable to object under the circumstances. In for a dime, in for a dollar. Down the hatch. Within ten minutes I knew it was at least 500 mics of Sandoz, the original and the best.

Marco and Beatrice took possession of the bear rug. Bill, Bali and I squatted around the tape recorder. Aurora and Suzanne curled up in facing couches on either side of the fire. Tommy, who was the only person present not on acid, sat in a chair facing away from us and smoked a joint.

Sham sat on the floor in the lotus position, near the light-show screen. Next to him was a roll of cloth which I had not noticed before.

Bali rose, went over to a peripheral rug in front of the bar at the far end of the room, and started to dance, very, very slowly.

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