`Only the weak'...Simon wrote, `are addicted to hope.'
"That's why," Simon said out loud...looking out the window...searching for a sign...which might he hoped lead to a spot of bliss. "That's why I was hurt by Cesar's behaviour. What a view! Buff stone...terraced...almost elegant...town houses. Sky?"
The sky seemed to be...a mood. It seemed...languid...or worse...life-less...colourless...without vitality. "What the hell am I doing here?!? I'm trying to cover up rather than be healed. Pride. Egotism. That's my junk. I, Simon, wanted to believe that Cesar's behaviour was a secret teaching for me. I don't want to think he's not an honourable, noble alchemist. I don't want to think he's a scheming, petty...thief!"
Simon felt he was...sagging...losing all impetus...and thinking he would never make it.
Theme. That was the problem. He was afraid he didn't have a real theme. An authentic story to tell. He began to get the horrors about the whole concept of himself being a `writer'. If anyone's phoney...it's me. Me. Me. After a...struggle...he overpowered the urge to put his pen down and close his book.
'Writing is painful for those poor souls who imagine they can do what they can't.'
"There! I've said it!" Simon said out loud...but not loud enough to disturb the pigeons gossiping on the window-sill...opposite.
He was tempted to write down all `the truths' that he'd ever discovered...then he thought it would be far better if they popped onto the page at the appropriate point in his text. TEXT. Manuscript. Yes, I'm working on my manuscript. Man....you...script. So...man is directed by a script...by what's already been thought out. Man is an actor...acting out a script. What script? All I can think of is what I've read...or someone else has said...or what I've already said...or written. Now I'm being honest. But for how long? Soon he was imagining fantastic...golden scripts...originating in....in?...heaven?....Central Intelligence?
He then wrote very carefully, `Man seems to be a creature controlled by the past. No wonder he feels unreal. A blind weakling...acting out what he thinks are instructions...from scattered pages...of an abandoned braille script.
WILL. What place does will have in the life of a man controlled by a script?
None! He follows the pattern of the script...and therefore has no use for the will. No use for thinking. The invisible script is the robot-eyes-sing programme. The programme which is activated when man turns away from reality.'
Simon put his Parker down and closed his eyes. He knew he was perilously close to crashing into the Heidegger archipelago.
Suddenly he wrote very fast::--`Will versus script. This is where we are. Where I am. If I choose will I don't need to know the script. Those of us who live by WILL are the dissidents in this paper whirld. Paper rulers! The action NOW...of rejecting the safe life offered by `the script' is the first real act of WILL. All the script offers...is a place...in the museum of pretence. The pretence of being alive.'
"I am a dissident!" Simon shouted, "And my problem has been that I've been afraid to put my persuasions into practise...so I've been acting out `the script'...and therefore not been a real dissident!
Now I see...I'm a dissident who will have to go through the familiar...(scripted) struggle...of publishing my work...myself.
What I want to write is never going to be accepted by the dead whirld. Why the hell have I been hanging on to that hope? Weakness! Nothing else but sickening weakness! I don't know how I've managed to keep my flame alive? Especially after Arnold refused to see me when I went to London. Wouldn't even open the door to me the bastard! Barked out obscenities through his letter box. Who cares that Shanti avoided me...but Arnold...he was a life line to my soul.
To my soul? Really? For my soul? I don't know. I don't KNOW! Thank God I came across `Living in the Truth' by Havel. What a man! I wonder how deeply Arnold knows the difference between WILL and `the script'? The irony is that Havel became President through knowing that difference. Yet surly becoming a president was part of the script!
`The WILL grows by using it now...for every act of WILL undermines `the power' invested in `the script'. Courage is the consequence of living by the will. The script ensures the opposite.'
Simon kept creating fantasies of courageous actions. The conditioned animal mind was working overtime...but Simon could see, SEE that every scenario was utterly mechanical...inappropriate...dumb...in fact `the voice' of the script. He spent some time wondering if the answer was to behave in such a way that the script-machine could not respond. Eventually it dawned on him that this was a stupid...scripted strategy.
`A true act of WILL ignores the advice offered by the script. The freed will erodes the status of the parrot.'
Work. It is through the wish to avoid work that the will becomes crippled. The script offers an alternative to work. Who doesn't work is a machine. But real work...is a very mysterious art. It is not mere effort. Real work is alchemy. The transmutation of inertia into freedom. He who thinks that the surrender of the WILL to inertia is relaxation...is a robot-eyesd...LUMP. The script is a FORM of inertia.'
Simon considered tracking Cesar down...but he knew there was a lesson involved which he had to learn. But what was it? He could come to no conclusion. He'd lost a wack it was true...on the other hand he could afford it. Whenever he was on the brink...of phoning Luke to see if he had any clues...he realised he was acting...on the script.
He found himself...pretending to be severe...strong-willed...then...hurt...let-down...angry...violent. He'd catch himself in some imagined scene...just about to do some really horrible thing to Cesar...which set him off debating the degree of his own insanity? He got out of that one by realising that hurting Cesar would not in any way help...or heal...his own psychic condition. It was this thought which held him back from reporting the robbery to the fuzz...And yet...why should Cesar get away with it? And that was the one which really gnawed at his entrails. Gnawed and gnawed until a different point of view dominated his drawn-out inner trial.
Suddenly Simon was grabbed by Luke's view. How many times had he...Simon...stolen what he needed from friends? From his mother...his brother. Books! How many books on his clean pine shelves...belonged to his friends? He sighed deeply. "He who is without sin...cast the first stone."
Yeah...but I never nicked two thousand quid! Nor nicked personal jewellery from anyone. That beautiful silver bracelet I bought in Delhi! He bloody well knew how attached I was to that...the bastard! Then his glance was caught by the green hardback spine of 'Mythologies' by W.B. Yeats. It belonged to Nick. Nick who'd introduced him to Wittgenstein when they were in the fifth form together. Nick who treated `The Foundation of Mathematics' as a book of jokes! Nick the passionate hard-nosed devotee of Yeats.
Simon slowly moved towards the bookcase...got the book down from the top shelf...opened it at random...and sat down in the window seat...and read `The Crucifixion of the Outcast'. By the time he finished the piece...he was shaking like a leaf. "No other word for it", he said out loud, as he mumbled into the kitchen...took a swig of Scotch...made a roll up... heated up the pot of Mu tea...and managed to not switch on the T.V.
`O.K. now it's time to write a short story about my relationship with Cesar. `The poet and the Alchemist'.
God, what stupid...scripted...pretentiousness! The fact is, I don't know how to write a proper short story. Of course I don't...but that doesn't mean I can't do it!'
Eventually Simon went over to Luke's pad in Stockbridge, got very, very stoned on freshly picked skunk and left his tortured writing in a folder on Luke's floor. The next day when Luke phoned to tell Simon he'd left his writing behind, Simon talked Luke round to reading it.
"I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading Simon's stuff. Honestly I don't know what I'm going to say when I see him. Maybe I'll just give it back to him without saying a word."
"You sound worried. Has he flipped?"
"Well I'll give you a rough synopsis Stevie...and decide for yourself."
Luke got the writing out of the packet and gave Steve this gist as he turned the hand written foolscap pages.
"O.K. Stevie hang on to ya sanity! `Once upon a time there lived a very clever magician called Harold. He wasn't very tall and had fairish hair. In fact he looked like a Russian ikon of Christ. He was very old...but he still looked like he was in his thirties due to his amazing magical abilities. He wore no clothes because he was the only human soul inhabiting a very, very exotic planet...discovered through his highly developed powers of clairvoyance.'
A few pages later we get `now it is one thing to be able to see with the third eye, it is another to be able to actually appear in the land of one's vision. But, after years and years of concentration, Harold managed to leap from the ordinary human space/time waveband of the Earth into the heart of his beautiful dream. His fresh luxurious planet was in many uncanny ways exactly like our Earth...twenty thousand years ago...except it had no animals...and what's more important...no sign of any other human soul. But what it lacked in the seeds of violence, it made up for in song. Birds of every possible construction filled the warm pink skies and the sweet smelling forests filled with butterflies and multitudes of ingenious insects. So Harold's life was a continuous rapture as he explored his new paradisiacal home.'
" Incidentally this stuff is supposed to be a short story!" Luke quickly turned a few more pages. "In fact it's like loads of beginnings that get...I don't know where. In the first possible story-line, Harold is extremely happy being a Robinson Crusoe on his fantastic planet...except for one major problem. Loneliness!"
"You don't say," drawled Steve handing the pipe to Luke. "Who is Simon writing this stuff for?"
"Ten year olds I s'pose. I don't know. Anyway, loneliness first was only an occasional zephyr...which of course carried him away...into unrealistic strategies...`but then he suffered a terrible blow to his sense of achievement when he discovered he could not leap back to Earth. This shock occurred when he tried to introduce himself to a very attractive woman called Karen living in Dublin.
There was no problem observing Karen...and he spent some considerable time doing just this....but it came to the point that he was spending more time viewing Karen on Earth then he was living on his own planet." Luke paused and took another draw on the skunk and turned a few more pages before resuming his `synopsis'.
" O.K., after trying this and that, Harold decides to seduce Karen and take her to his paradise. I'm sorry Steve...no it's O.K....what happens is that when he appears in her bedroom as she's undressing to go to bed, he couldn't make his presence known. It was like he was on the other side of a mirror through which he could see her…but she was completely unaware of his presence.
He tries every trick he knows...but it seems there's a cosmic law which prevents leapers from returning to their previous base. We then get pages and pages of just how sad Harold becomes in paradise. Yes Stevie I'm afraid so. All the charms of paradise did nothing but aggravate poor Harold's painful condition. Sad and mentally distraught beyond description...he of course felt totally defeated in his absolute isolation. So he tries to escape into his memories of his long life of over a thousand years on Earth...but that exercise became utterly tedious and did nothing more than rub salt into his aching wounded soul.
Eventually he ends up...get this...studying our present day existence. And what d'ya think man?...the more he looks...the madder it all seems. Mad. Mayhem. There's no words to describe the terrible impotence our poor hero feels. To see such endless stupidity on Earth and be unable to do anything about it! Unspeakable treacheries...unbelievable corruption. What could our poor hero do?
Stevie, man...there's nothing...absolutely nothing Harold can do but go back to his private paradise...and there he spends all his time on a tropical beach...trying to work out a strategy. A strategy to open the human race to its real potential for creating heaven on Earth! He reflects on all the wonderful books of wisdom...but what was the result of all that intellectual effort by thousands of souls? There was so very little good to show for it. And our problem...according to Saint Harold is undeveloped digestion!"
At this point Steve started pissing himself with laughter. It was so infectious that Luke actually fell out of his chair and rolled across to Steve who kicked him in the ass. After they both calmed down and smoked another pipe Luke said with a wink, "apparently Harold had been brought up by a very wise old Dad, who had rubbed it in to the wee wain that there's no point in reading a second thought before you've digested the first. That's the secret Stevie. The human race is constipated. How about that? It's full of SHIT! How about that for a revelation. I'm afraid that the art of digesting information...has been LOST!
But Stevie, there are other possibilities. Harold discovers he can travel into the future...but only within his paradise...and of course he has no trouble in returning to the present time-frame that we're in now . And what d'ya know? The future on his planet was exactly the same as the present on his planet. No animals. No humans. So, then we come to the big soul-searching crunch point! Eventually our hero realises there's nothing else he can do...but do what he never ever wanted to do. I'm afraid so Stevie, Harold is going to have to perform BLACK MAGIC."
"I'm afraid so laddie. Yes, even though our hero throughout his very long life tried to never ever manipulate other people's minds...he was brought to this sordid impasse, where he could see no other solution to his dilemma than to use black magic! This was a terrible burden to take upon himself since our hero had made such an enormous issue over the choice between black magic and white magic throughout his very long life."
"Come on man, you've already said that once! Get on with it."
"I'm stoned. Sorry man. O.K. Harold is not into puppets. He doesn't want to take a robot back to his paradise. But as I said already...he felt absolutely...stuck! And Harold had never been totally stuck before. Imagine the horror of it Steve. Stuck...in paradise. Stuck in paradise...yearning...stretching...to get BACK into our Earthly HELL! And get this Man...the irony of his situation was not lost on our hero. No man...he in fact prided himself on possessing a very deep humour...but who was laughing now?
The fish actually seemed sympathetic...even friendly. There wasn't a species of tropical fish found on Earth missing in Harold's new world...but as far as he could see there were no whales or dolphins. I'm afraid so laddie...no mammals. Loads of fish...birds...insects...and Harold. Harold feeling totally cut off. Cut off from...? From? So he decides to get on with it...and just enjoy his new found paradise...and forget about women.
Women? No Steve...that's not the issue our hero realises. No the issue is about...Harold...getting older...and older...and dying in paradise...and there being no mother in his paradise...yes man...no Karen to take his soul...into her heart...into her womb...so he could be reborn...in paradise...and have Karen as his mother! Yes what he saw was going to happen, was he'd find himself queuing up to be born... like every other sucker...in HELL! The prospect of finding himself SUCKED into some appalling nightmare like Somalia or Cambodia...or…?...haunted him as if he was the victim of some diabolical psychic attack. This, decided our hero, is what happens when one is really TRAPPED!
He realised he was attacking himself...instead of attacking the trap! Yes man, he saw that he was totally isolated inside the consequences of his projection. And so he decided he had no option...but to manipulate Karen. He of course speculated that he could just sit on one of his incredibly beautiful beaches...and wait...and wait...and wait...for some female witch to leap into his world...but then what? Say she didn't fancy him? Or...he thought...she might want to take him over! No....he decided. He had no option. It had to be Karen!"
"Listen Luke, please do a precis whilst I have a piss. I thought it was supposed to be a short story." Whilst Steve could be heard in the bog Luke scanned the next forty pages. When Steve returned with two mugs of strong tea, Luke told him how Harold invisibly influenced Karen to "think" along the line that the Earth is played out!...that all men are thick...and want to trap her. So he pushes her to the point that she longs with all her "soul" to be in a world permeated with the atmosphere of innocence!"
"What a sly manipulating bastard!"
"Fraid so laddie. Yep, slowly and carefully Harold managed to teach her how to roll out of her body! Then, once she got used to that...day after day...night after night...Harold took her on out of the body tours of his planet. Of course she was only viewing his paradisiacal home...she wasn't as yet in it...that is, not until that moment when our hero suddenly grasped her "soul-body" tight to his own...and...jerked her silver cord so hard it detached from her physical body......and lo!.....SHE LEAPED AND LANDED IN PARADISE...ALL IN ONE PIECE."
Luke got up from his old swivel chair...stretched...grunted…shrugged his shoulders and went to the bog . Steve picked up the manuscript but couldn't make head or tail of Simon's writing.
"The next bit is really weird," said Luke in a sort of mocking voice. " Really weird man. When Karen gives birth to a lovely daughter...Harold drowns her. And when they have a second daughter...he drowns her. Karen is seriously un-hinged by her situation. She of course has learnt that there is no way she can get back to Earth...so she tries to make the best of it! The best of feeling completely split. Totally in awe of Harold...yet fearing his lurking deep insanity. When next a little boy is born...Harold is ecstatic. When the child...called Bee is three, Harold castrates him...and takes him into a future zone...leaving Karen on her own. She is unaware of where they've gone and imagines that they've simply moved to a different part of paradise.
We then get about thirty pages of just how distraught Karen gets...until she finally comes to terms with her own solitude.
Meanwhile, Harold in the future, "teaches" each castrated son that his memories of Karen are part of a dream. From time to time Harold returns to be with Karen. Then each time she gives birth to a son...the same thing happens. They get castrated and taken into the future..."educated"...and eventually set to work...to turn the future paradise into HEAVEN! Harold calls his castrated sons angels...who have no idea that there is any other existence other than their own!"
"When is this bastard going to get his cumuppance man? I'm getting sick of this."
"O come on Stevie. It's not that bad! We've had a good laugh...and something's about to unzip. Listen, one day Karen gives birth to a daughter and would you believe it...she manages to persuade our diabolical hero when he suddenly appears…back from the future...that this beautiful baby daughter of his can in no way be of any threat to him...and at the same time the child could prove to be good company for Karen whilst Harold is `educating' their sons.
Thinking it over on his own, he decides that Karen indeed has a good point. With images of incest streaking through his mind, he gave Karen the O.K. just before he came inside her. O.K., man...I'll cut this long story short. O.K., the kid's called Dawn and Karen teaches her the mystical art of astral travelling. When Dawn's seventeen she finally locates the sort of guy she's looking for...and LEAPS to be with him in HELL...that is, in the Earth time/space frame at the end of the twentieth century.
They have loads of children who are all taught how to leap into paradise where Karen hides them away from Harold...who is of course extremely puzzled by Dawn's disappearance. Karen tells him that she's afraid that Dawn drowned herself in order to meet her sisters in the death realm. Harold flips his lid at this idea...and whilst he's raving, one of Dawn's sons, Malik, locates the future zone where all of Karen's castrated sons are busy building heaven for their God-father. Malik tells the eunuchs the truth of their actual situation...who are then led back to the present time where they witness their insane father screaming at their mother...when suddenly, the rest of Dawn's huge family appear and prove to the eunuchs the truth of their situation.
Harold...like King Lear...is totally defeated...a broken mess...
At last Harold is forgiven by everyone...the poor eunuchs of course finding that a bit of a hard mountain to climb. Then Karen...who is obviously the Queen of Hearts...agrees that when Harold dies he can be re-born in Paradise...there being no more problem with the supply of babies since the regular arrival of Dawn's off-spring...the leapers from Earth. It was also laid down that Dawn and her Mate could definitely incarnate in paradise when they kicked the bucket. This of course all happened...and when Harold was re-born as a little girl...the entire entourage moved into the future zone to carry on the building work. That's it Stevie, man."
When Simon came round the next day Luke didn't waste time. "Simon I read your story and....."
"I knew you were going to tell me it's crap. What can I do? You know I have this urge to write...and I don't know how to write...or what to write about...."
"It doesn't matter man. You don't have to write. You don't have to do anything."
"Well last night I wrote a different version about Harold."
"Yeah. You want some fresh coffee?"
"Please. Yeah in this new version, Harold organises a liaison between Karen and a mediumistic painter. The painter and Karen produce a son who is educated in the arts of magic. When Harold returns clairvoyantly to Earth to initiate the ten year old son in the art of leaping...he first fucks Karen...through the body of the painter...in the hope of producing another son."
"Hey laddie, wash up the mugs."
After Simon filled the cream plastic bowl with hottish water...washed the mugs and the chipped jug and rinsed them under the cold water tap...he continued his tale whilst drying up.
"Yeah, whilst on the job, Karen manages to hack Harold's mind-data bank and sees that he intends to have Jason...her son...castrated and taken away to Harold's Kingdom. So that night...before the initiation at dawn...Karen warns Jason of Harold's plan...so Jason leaps to Paradise...having been taught how to do so by Harold...and hides away from the section where Harold hangs out. Harold is furious that Jason has escaped...and spends ages and ages searching for him."
"O.K. man, relax. Let's go next door and have a pipe. I'll bring the coffee in after I've had a slash...the pipe and gear are in my Indian box on the table."
Simon stumbled over his own feet as he nervously entered Luke's extremely well ordered lounge. In the midst of the stumble he decided to fall...to collapse...but no sooner his outstretched hands hit the soft dark blue carpeted floor...he knew that all Annie's loving work on his back for the last six months was destroyed! Suppressing screaming out led him to attempt to recover his dignity by rolling...slowly...towards the low, black Japanese table. Then he decided there was no choice but to utterly ignore the intense pain in his lower back. So, realising that his tumble had not been observed, he bit his lip, sat up, crossed his legs and opened Luke's hand-carved dope box.
He knew he was in an awful mess when the sight of the eight or nine different brands of black and khaki hash made him feel an intensification of fear. The trouble was that he had no idea what to think! He felt like a travelling salesman selling wares he didn't believe in. And that's why he felt scared. He knew that being stoned would indicate exactly how far out of line he was from his true self...if he still had a true self left. Despite his paranoia he found himself stuffing the beautiful silver pipe with real pure black Afghani.
When Luke appeared carrying two mugs of coffee, Simon was going to blurt out that it was just as well that he hadn't carried the coffees...but he decided to keep quiet. After Luke settled into his low-slung swinging armchair, Simon crawled to him and handed him the pipe and lit it for him. They smoked it together...Simon leaning against the side of the armchair at a right angle to Luke...and then they were swamped in silence
"Maybe you're right Luke. What's the point of novels anyway?"
"Entertainment laddie....as you well know....Come on! What comes next?"
Simon felt such a flood of relief he feared he might fall in love with Luke. Luke fetched the dope box... sat back in the armchair and commenced to fill the pipe with Red Leb...then he tapped on Simon's shoulder and urged him on with a dark look.
"Well...as I think I said...after Jason leaps into Paradise, he hides from Harold...who gets more and more furious at not being able to find him. My next idea was that Harold gets more sons produced who he yanks back to his paradise. Castrated and brainwashed they work hard to build Harold's idea of Heaven in Paradise.
Meanwhile...Jason has discovered that he can't re-appear on Earth...but he manages to perform the old `grab trick' and yanks a mate to paradise...and together--completely unknown to Harold--Jason and his mate build up a huge tribe on the opposite side of the globe to where Harold's eunuch kingdom is set up. All the eunuchs have been taught that Harold...and Harold alone...created them using his magical powers. He tells them that their memories of Earth are dream fantasies...and for the sake of the story…we find out that eunuchs have no powers of clairvoyance."
Luke hands the pipe to Simon...who wants to refuse...but he ignores his fear and takes three big tokes and then puts the empty pipe on the polished pine arm of Luke's chair.
"Come on laddie, what's next?"
"You sure you want to hear all this?"
"Just get it off your chest man."
"O.K., Well, in the palace the eunuch `Angels' have built for Harold...is a temple which he retires into from time to time. Then, when he gives the signal...the angels' trumpets blare and he re-appears---(having been to Earth)---carrying a new castrated son…which all the eunuchs think he's produced on his own inside the temple.
Meanwhile, Jason's tribe have been stalking Harold's activities...and one day they all turn up at Harold's ranch...just before dinner time...knowing this is the time when all Harold's drones are gathered together. Suddenly Jason, Dawn and forty offspring...including grandchildren...breeze into the dining hall. Harold is completely poleaxed!
The eunuchs are completely mind-blown..."
"Because they were told that they were the only beings who existed!"
"You're right there Luke, man! So, the Jason tribe decide they will all leap together into the future zone...and invite the eunuchs to join them. The poor bastards are delighted by the idea and ask `the Jasons' to teach them how to do it. Harold is forced to eat humble pie and even begs...to be allowed to re-incarnate in Jason and Dawn's future zone!"
"Let me guess? He is allowed to incarnate...but he's castrated?"
"Well I thought he should be castrated by Karen in this lifetime...kept in solitary confinement...and then only be allowed to re-incarnate as a baby girl."
"Or laddie, he could incarnate as a boy who Jason castrates and keeps as his servant. You could turn the whole idea into a board game...or a sheaf of versions. Let's have another pipe. Try the black Manali."
"I thought it was Afghani."
Simon had to get a taxi back to his Dundee Terrace flat because the back pain was getting intolerable. Even so, this didn't stop Simon from imagining another version in which Jason's family stalk one of Harold's eunuchs and capture him...they then tell him of the truth of his---and all his brothers'--- situation. Harold searches high and low for the missing eunuch called Malik...and comes to the conclusion that he's hiding in the future...but actually---one by one---Malik stalks the other eunuchs and one by one, tells them of the Jason and Dawn tribe living in a different part of paradise. When every eunuch knows the score...Malik, on his own, appears at Harold's dinner table...and in answer to Harold's intolerant inquisition...Malik tells Harold of the Jason and Dawn tribe.
Harold vehemently denies that there could be anyone else in Paradise since he is GOD. Harold then threatens to send Malik to Hell.(Earth). Harold asks all the gathered eunuchs if any of them believe their mad brother Malik's tale? They all as one stand up for Malik. As Harold---genuinely believing the Malik story to be a lie---is screaming threats of sending all the eunuchs to Hell...in saunter Jason...Dawn...and the rest of the wild looking colourful tribe. Harold, defeated, broken...pleads for mercy.
`I'm Harold', thought Simon, as he literally crawled up the first flight of very cold, unwashed stone steps towards his third floor cold-water flat. Then just as he pulled himself up to stand on the first landing...it hit him for six! So much so, that even though he was--by now--tormented with the terrifying, raging, ripping pain in his lumber region...he manically swung round...driven by the massive cruel shock wave. He reeled as his attention locked onto the mental image of his bag being swept away from him, as it rested innocently on the mock leather back seat of the black old-fashioned taxi! His Indian shoulder bag!
His precious bag containing his first draft of Harold...his Indian Mala beads...and the ounce of Manali he just scored off Luke! MAN! From mentally reeling he rapidly...became a mere noisy heap...tumbling down to the very bottom chipped step. "Fucking HELL!" was all he screamed as he pulled himself up and crashed out onto the empty pavement. The taxi was nowhere. Then as he began grasping the shit he was in...he realised that his back felt....?..normal. He'd been healed by falling down concrete stairs!
It was such a relief that the euphoria postponed…for a few seconds...what he knew he had to consider. Although there was nothing in his bag with his name on it...not even on the first version of Harold…he was still in deep shit. The taxi driver---a red headed, laconic, Edinburgh guy...about thirty-five wearing John Lennon glasses...would almost definitely open the bag. It meant at the very least he couldn't attempt to get his Harold text back. The driver would probably take it round to the police station right away...opened or not opened. Then the drug squad would be questioning everyone with Simon's description given by the bastard taxi driver.
Course the bastard might just take the dope and smoke it with his taxi mates...and have a good laugh reading his Harold bilge! The trouble was, that even if the guy was honest and decent and took it round to the police un-opened...Simon was still in the shit! It was clear there was no way Simon could go after his bag. But...what if the taxi driver was really cool and took out the dope...and only then took the bag round to the police? That would be really cool. But Simon wanted to push for an end to it! I'm in fucking limbo! My first effort at writing a short story was ridiculous...and if I don't do something quick...I could find myself inside very soon!
Suddenly he felt a great wave of inertia...inviting him into despair. The horrible bully who lives in the flat underneath...is a taxi driver! Maybe he should pack up right away and go to the Himalayas...for a long time. The thought hit him that he could phone up from a public phone box near Luke's pad in Stockbridge and use a false name. But phone who? The police or the taxi firm? After all he hadn't told the taxi driver that he lived in Dundee Terrace. But how long should he wait before going to Stockbridge?
He could hang out in the pub round the corner from Luke's pad…for a bit...because he couldn't go back to Luke's pad...right away! That's for sure. Not that it had been a bad meeting...just a bit strained. Actually Luke had been noticeably more warm than usual...in fact all things considered, Luke had been helpful. It was just the bit about how Steve had found it funny which had caused Simon to feel freaked out…apart from his worry about his own motives for writing Harold…and telling Luke he could read it.
The point was that he hadn't told Luke to treat his manuscript as confidential material...if that was the right term. No....the point was that Simon didn't dig Steve very much. No...that's bullshit. He was scared...shit-scared of Steve...and it made Simon feel so stupid...so infantile...to be so scared of Steve...just because...just because he sports such an enormous prick. Why should it make any difference whatsoever to his life...NOW? NOW!
But Simon's memory of the time when Steve lived at the Ashram was littered with land-mines. Mind-mines. Wearing no clothes on Ashram land had been normal in the summer...after all no one but Ashram inmates were ever around...and in any case the whole place was totally inaccessible and absolutely secluded. But it wasn't just the fact that his member was excessively large...but it was the way that Shanti had advertised this freakish news to Simon...before he'd ever seen the monster for himself.
One of the first things Steve---a cabinet maker---had constructed when he'd moved in, was an outside shower. Simon hadn't fancied it in the early Highland Spring...so he hadn't known anything of Steve's proportions until Shanti...her long hair wrapped up in a white flannel towel and her over-excited body in a scarlet one...exclaimed the undermining news! She wasn't just over-excited...she was BLINDLY, WILDLY EXCITED...and from then on every time Shanti made allusions to Steve's truncheon...Simon felt more deflated.
Then as the very hot summer began...there was no avoiding the sight of it! And at once Simon understood what all the fuss was about. It was truly a terrible sight for Simon. TERRIBLE! It completely torpedoed his living dream! And it struck the death knell for the Ashram. You simply couldn't have community life with a weapon like that around. I mean we're talking about something like a foot long and as fat as a black pudding or a haggis. In other words...longer and thicker than your average large cucumber!
And...Steve had no shame about letting it be fully erect...at any time! Life suddenly became horribly frightening because the mind of every female was magnet-eysed in one direction only...once they'd seen Steve's equipment. And on top of that Steve did his level best to satisfy their curiosity. Shanti---the senior hen---flapped around for it first...and although she tried to not rub it in, she said that she couldn't imagine how any other man could ever come anywhere near the fantastic fuck she'd had with Steve. It even beat the madly erotic times she'd enjoyed with Al. And of course, it wasn't just one fuck! It happened more or less any time they had the opportunity. That is...when Steve wasn't fucking the other female inmates. Then...sometimes it was obvious...by the noise...that two or three of the Ashram inmates were in bed with Steve at the same time! ( Steve had his own seventeen foot tipi).
Eventually, Steve left the Ashram...with five women and two young gay men. He demon-straighted his magnetic power by the fact that two of the women who left with him, had previously been 100% lesbian feminists! Now bi-sexuality was their new obsession. After they all left, life in the Ashram de-hydrated...until Arnold finished it all off.
Suddenly it started pissing down! It was dusk and the black tarmac pavement under Simon's old leather sandals took on a slippery look...caused by the nearby streetlight. Crestfallen, Simon slowly made his way back up the dim, depressing stair-well. Of course, he'd half-hoped that the taxi driver had found his bag and would return with it. When he finally closed the dirty, chocolate-red door and groped his way along the dark passage...to the kitchen…something weird happened when he put the light on. It made him reel inside, for it felt like the dark blue walls were screaming at him. He immediately put the light off...and hobbled into his lounge/workroom...and stopped in the middle of the room...where Eco's Pendulum sneered at his predicament. He went to snatch it from the bookshelf but instead lurched to the window and shouted through the grubby glass, "Shit! Luke's RIGHT! I don't have to be a penpusher!"
The ever patient...boring pigeons made a few minor adjustments to their lookout positions, before another wave of utter hopelessness turned Simon's stature in his own eyes into shadow upon shadow.
Yet the excruciating back pain had 100% vanished. That was nothing short of extraordinary. Only those who've suffered with tormenting pain in the lower back will have a clue to how much his back hurt...before he fell down the cold stone steps. And now…it was as if he'd never had a bad back in his whole life. Not even a twinge! It was un-believable. And yet it should have felt worse...with all the worry about the possibility of being bust at any moment...and he still hadn't decided whether he was going to go back to Stockbridge or not?
So much aimless time passed as he kept returning to the mad Harold theme...his mug of Mu tea...by now, near stone cold and over-gripped in his sweating right hand. What a drag! Not a bloody word to show for all that sweat! And I bet someone else will come across this planet populated by males only. But through whose eyes will we 'see' that planet?
Then, suddenly he was touched by a moment of enthusiasm and thought he would write out a ground plan...but this notion soon evaporated when he thought this would make the actual writing of the story a terrible chore...because the action would be finished before the pen slog began.
Now what's happening...is one line of thought is colliding with another. "Work to save your life"...has just been torpedoed by "I hate projects which prevent me enjoying the present moment...which in fact close me off to the present moment." Then "work with true humility to develop your soul" was sniped at by "isn't writing a form of escape from the miracle of Being Alive Now?"
The attacks seemed to be coming from the same old gang comprised of Pious Pete, Cowardy Custard, Lazy Bones and Judas. Yes, Judas...the voice of the calculating saboteur...wanting to know the cost in terms of energy...in terms of time!
God, say I was to write it out all again...how long would it take? The calculating mechanical voice...suspended within a phoney caring atmosphere. An atmosphere reeking with rotting flotsam and jetsam. Data...Data...Data. On these floating islands of information...fucked-up souls are rotting and puking out more insane imprisoning parameters. The consciousness of the globe is being rampantly quantified. Everything is a thing. A point. Measurable. Locatable. Every emotion can be identified...tracked...pinned down.
Look hard at an instant of caring...and you'll find a wisp of guile. Ugh! Simon hurried back to the kitchen...put the light on...didn't reel...and put the kettle back on the hot plate. O.K., what sort of character is Harold? A manipulator...for sure. Is that all? Why does he behave like Hitler in paradise? Why for God's sake does he drown his own daughters? Does he castrate all of his sons merely out of fear of competition? He needed them to alleviate his loneliness...but was scared they'd might usurp his position...which of course they always did! God...what am I up to? "Good question," said Simon...immediately realising the two words had become tunnels...not meanings. Tunnels through which an enormously powerful presence entered his third floor flat.
Unwittingly, Simon uttered exactly what was required. "UMBALABALA!"
The fruit of this serendipitous utterance was an exquisite revelation.
Simon found himself inside the space of question!?!?
END OF FAX TRANSMISSION