De Guelloby Mark Rudman
The phone call, the plan, to reunite with your boarding school friend Rick
who schooled you in the art of what could be done with a deck of cards,
and go to, where else, if not, Mexico, first stop Cuernavaca,
we’d start with the pilgrimage to where Lowry’s Consul went down,
“Mescal? But does it make you hallucinate?,” then find our way
to Orozco’s artillery fire in the perpetual revolution that went on 24/7 in eternity
in the orphanage in Guadalajara; it was my plan, I’d called Rick out of nowhere from New York City, we hadn’t spoken since when, but he was game, “an adventure, bitchin,’” his delivery masterfully paced, and I was flush with wild
jags we had when I stayed with him when we were still in our teens,
as we drove around L.A.
in the inconceivable silence of his reconstituted Jaguar with its wood paneled interior,
or the opposite on his 650 cc Harley, which he let me take without offering a single instruction except a joke about how quickly it can go from zero to eighty if your wrist goes limp on the accelerator, a lesson I had learned in reverse at cliff’s edge on a Honda 125, and it wasn’t dangerous to go at gradually mounting speeds when Santa Monica
Boulevard departed from the traffic on Sunset and took on another
identity as the distance between the houses matched the difference in the size
and quality of the houses, Rick’s sidelong glance as he held both hands high
in the air “look at the speedometer now” and I thought, “no wonder I can’t feel the road under us because it isn’t,” and it wasn’t like being high, most things aren’t really like
anything, we were, in essence, flying, and I’d bet Da Vinci Einstein and McQueen
would agree, while the Wright brothers foamed at the fact that this suspension
was accomplished without wings; either way the Harley, after growling all the way up a punishing hill remained off the ground long enough to enter the atmosphere,
and get the feel of real aspiration;
and small miracle the one where we stopped to gather
Suzette was, but it probably wasn’t, made of cedar, and the good smell me
with the score her father was improvising on the piano in the room, no one had to say,
was Off Limits, but the master of soundtracks for action flicks did let himself be seen,
the bar was in the living room where we were huddled close together and spoke
in whispers, and drink time had arrived in space and the objects that inhabit it,
like the clocks that sounded 5 times at 5 o’clock, and in the course of the same action the iconic composer could check on his daughter in the pseudo-unobtrusive way
parents do with children who are young adults, it takes less than a split second,
is there a term for that more precise than millisecond?, and now it comes back that Rick, amidst his praise of the inconceivably gorgeous and mystical and sexually omnivorous girl, that he did mention her affection for cocaine, of which I saw no sign
until the next day when she lost herself in the cave behind the waterfall behind Woody
Guthrie’s former shack in Topango Canyon and put on a fake Yuk little girl voice
to resist Rick’s sanguine remonstrations, and the reward posted for keeping us company while we cut logs would be—he knew the crew in the main house were about to light up; and on the second night, the night after I’d arrived on American and Rick
shook my hand after ludicrous beautiful display of taking off his black
driving glove to shake my hand, we lay awake, grooving,
all these phrases poured out of his mouth with inimitable cool
and quiet, low key, irony, to the White Album, both reminiscing and catching up, enjoying the low key rapport, when the boy, whose name was, now what might a “legendary” (super rich) psychiatrist, who thought Freud—and Rank, and Sullivan, not Jung—outdated “after Hiroshima and LSD,” be inclined (“lie back relax and let your thoughts flow”) to name his son if not…,—burst in, and would have burst through had Rick locked the door, a direful beige cowboy hat askance on his head and an unsheathed
machete in his right hand and began an unfunny if not demoniacal— (later Rick would fill me in that the kid was diagnosed “paranoid schizophrenic” and that hundreds of acid trips and “psychiatric” additions had made him begin to lose control)—search for “my guitar where the fuck is my guitar I know you fuckers must have it I’ve looked everywhere,” and then he checked under the bed, “check all you like,” and he did (but he didn’t, because in his brain addled fury he opened and shut drawers and ripped through clothes in closets too quickly to take anything in, still, a guitar he couldn’t miss, now realize for the first time he must have read my—this time real—thoughts, that I’d never witnessed an unraveling of this order, they have a clinical term for it today, and his head aimed itself at my head and his body loomed, why look when I know it’s you, the odd
man out, the stranger who he’d spotted reading Melville’s The Confidence Man
at poolside earlier and grunted “huh, I can’t believe you’d read that if you didn’t have to, but you’re probably smart, which I’m not, really, am I Rick?,”—a solution that would have appalled Dupin and delighted the Deconstructionists who went after the crumbs, not
of Derrida, but of the second string devourers “of interpretations of” and began to move his arm on a broad circle then swung the weapon spastically harder, harder, faster, closer, until the blade was right above my throat, and I stared in the coldest silence I could conjure into the twin windmills, in two whirling out of control kaleidoscopes that had, was it possible?—replaced his eyes?—…and Rick mimicked a “pretend it’s not serious” manner until he pulled back, and howled, full and loud, which the Wolf Man never did for Freud, and headed back through the house to announce to the would be sleepers he was “gonna kill that prick!” at which juncture I nodded at Rick—and beat it. Ran. Through the faux labyrinth of Palo Alto. Through swept even washed clean streets where no garbage can lid had the chutzpah to appear loose and at an angle as if it might fall off and leave the leavings to the exterminate coyotes who had the gall to raid the civilized world out of mere hunger… Knocked. Pounded. Bolts clamped shut. The few that opened slammed. Response? Silence, or, “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in,” by late middle aged burghers whose voices sounded phone gone dead and who evaporated along with the water the sprinklers had sprayed on the lush artificial lawns after delivering monotonic variations On a Theme of No, and how to pretend not to hear my second request: that they call the police.
Shirtless, barefooted, I climbed high wooden fences, whose tops were tapered
to a point: they could cut you open if you turned conservative. Heard
the snarling of the dogs. Dismemberment, better get a rock, a stick.
Would my remains vanish too with the Palo Alto sunrise. Palo Alto.
Benign sound to the name. Until you drift to malignant. Money can cover
any lie, until your death, at best. The lies you told yourself, mostly, the lies
that gave you leave to act in such and such justified righteous manner in a world where no such thing exists, outside a word. I must have landed in enough damp gardens or mud in the gaps between fence and lawn when I dropped
from fences to sea level to have my body darkened to where I was nearly
invisible between the streetlights on low and I made sure, as I kneeled beside another garden, dodging sprinklers, to rub this rich black earth on my face.
Then circled back and tapped on the glass door that opened on the lawn and pool area. Full moon tonight they said. Just—the opposite. And this the first damp
cold day of the fall this year. Rick had entered a trance. I went for ice water.
He was set to knock back the two Placidils he’d lined up on his nightstand.
But I set him in motion. It’s better to have a fellow conspirator in this
game of survival when two people are afraid of something they know is not
psychological or fear itself and exists as pure negative ion force.
And when the true macheteros of Tikal and Sayil, Palenque and Uxmal,
got wind of other incidents through the careless and irresponsible gossip spewn
thoughtlessly by tourists desperate for something, anything!, to say, involving this guy the California based newspapers refer to as
“son of the well known psychia…”—
a word that meant less than nothing to the mustachioed men—I have it at first hand: “with our wages we don’t have time to dream or,” rare for these enlightened ones not to leaven heavy water with humor, “even get in too much trouble.”
The encroaching chill was internal, they were on their way to being pronounced
guilty by association with this rabid and spoiled and brainless kid—
irritated the sleep spirits, they became restless, and didn’t hesitate to act—attend—to the problem. There’s a story in Mayan lore about how some impulsive people let fall at inconceivable distances from the source, bullshit rumors,
gossip, stories, news that wasn’t news, and how the punishment, meted out in just proportion, was used to drum into enemy heads,the rationale for yet another raid when the result was already in—
and what they called tomorrow had already happened.
I later learned, the boy’s mind doctor father was so conscious
Freud lit upon the unconscious, mind as ruined city, in Rome, that he set about
scavenging one ruin, another, and another, wilting, while he waited
for some idea to form. He was the master monitor of acid trips.
And illumination posted in the azure air above Beverly Hills.