text and video frames by the Gus, illustrations by Jessika Flint
see a gallery of images from the Jehu End of the World Party
here are many cults in the greater Charlottesville area. One is that run by the Swami Satchanananda called "Yogaville"-it has a huge lotus-shaped shrine for all the major religions as well as those too small to be considered major and those as yet unknown. Another cult which I recently became aware of is called "The Gathering" and it is headquartered in Nelson County near Schuyler. The basic beliefs of The Gathering are derived from Judaism, Christianity, UFO folklore, Astrology, and Mental Telepathy. They are led by a guru who feels that in a month's time the alien invasion will commence, and all who know best will flee to the Charlottesville area, where they will be protected by a dish-shaped formation of soapstone that underlies the area and supposedly concentrates psychic energy. One of the members of The Gathering is named Jehu and he works in some official position at a respectable publishing firm on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. One of his employees is none other than Matthew S. Farrell, aka "Farrell." Jehu was known to all of us from this summer for his attempting to convince Morgan Anarchy to pose for some erotic photography. Morgan, it seems, captures the unwelcomed fancy of a number of gay men on the downtown mall, including Wolfgang, who works at Miller's. This story, however, has nothing whatever to do with the sexual proclivities of Jehu or anyone else. No indeed, this story contains almost no sex at all. If any sex can be found in the tale of the Jehu End of the World Party, it concerns the absence, the depressing absence, of sex, and what it can motivate someone to do. But any and all such motivations are minor footnotes to the asexual core of the tale.
On Saturday as we began to experience the first effects of our Tussin adventure, Jehu called with news that, after all, he and the rest of his "The Gathering" cult, acting as a cooperative, did in fact want to hire Jessika, Peggy and Sara to work as caterers at a party to be held the next day (on Sunday). Farrell had been working hard behind the scenes to convince Jehu of the value of employing the Malvern Girls, since he knew them to be short of funds and desperately in need of employment. The cult at first had been reluctant to hire the girls, but then as the scale of the work that needed doing revealed itself with sufficient clarity, it became obvious that the girls were a necessity, not a luxury. Jehu has a mumbly way of talking, with here and there nouns floating as islands in seas of "wa wa wa"s. When he spoke with Sara on the phone to confirm the Malvern Girls' employment, he apologetically suggested that they remove their noserings, even if that was a drag: Jehu had known Andy Warhol when he was younger and had been forced to wear his long hair under a short wig in some capacity involving that particular Pop Artist (so I gather from Sara's analysis of whatever Jehu had mumbled at her). What the Girls were expected to do at the party included refilling a champagne fountain, refilling a tub of Kielbasa, picking up trash, and being generally pleasant and lovely to all. The party was to be a very hoity-toity affair. Supposedly the Governor (George Allen, a right-wing lug nut), several Congressmen, Ambassadors, and other dignitaries were expected to show up. Farrell apparently had authority to invite still others of much lower status to the party, and he enthusiastically invited Jennn, Michæl Nace and myself, as well as Josh Smith. How was Farrell to know how I behave when I am drunk?
On the day of the Jehu End of the World Party, there was an orgy of dressing up and preening and primping. We had to be suitably attired, especially the Girls, and so this required looking through the various available wardrobes to find what was going to work at a party with a bunch of cult members convinced of the imminent end of the world as we know it. At various stages throughout this process, Peggy, Jessika and I, later joined by Sara, would line up to do a leg shuffling chorus line routine in front of Jessika's mirror, to one of my ridiculous hummed tunes (something like "doo dee dah deedee dee doo"). Peggy found a classy way to hide her dreadlocks, by stuffing them into Jessika's stovepipe hat. Both Jessika and Sara ended up wearing coppery-looking dresses. I was wearing Jessika's fluffy black sweater as well as a pair of black jeans more or less dumpster dived from Josh Smith's rubbish from his old place just north of Charlottesville. Michæl Nace and Jennn had every intention of going too, and Michæl Nace didn't worry all that much about how he looked. Despite his affiliation with a satanic punk band, he is a practicing Roman Catholic, and had driven to Charlottesville this morning just for the services (he'd found them vaguely Baptist....there was a strong southern influence that he'd detected and it had irritated him). Michæl Nace was simply going to be wearing the not overly fussy duds he'd worn to church this morning. Of course, since Jennn expected to be running across Farrell at the party, she made sure she was looking like a good approximation of fine. Again she applied that nauseating blue lipstick that had apparently worked so well in days previous (I'd found a bunch of it on the mouthpiece of my plastic C-major recorder).
The Girls left before the rest of us in Peggy's car. Peggy thought it better form that the employees arrive at a different time than the guests. I learned later that as they drove down the road they were singing REM's "It's The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine." After they were gone, Michæl Nace and I spoke ill of southerners as we kicked a basketball to and fro as one does in soccer. We also discussed the interest that the Malvern Girls have for astrology. Michæl Nace naturally thinks that Astrology is a bunch of crap. But I pointed out how valuable Astrology can be in determining what people who do believe in it are really thinking about you. I mentioned that Sara and Jessika are partial to air signs, Sara being partial to Aquarians such as myself especially, while hating Aries (Josh and Michæl Nace) and finding problems with Taurus (Thadius John Burch, Steve Weiner), Virgo (Eric the Huffanator Huffman, John Hormone), Pisces (Mellow D and Jatasya) and Cancer for various different reasons. I said that Peggy seems to have a preference for Aries, while Mellow D has said that she only likes water signs (Scorpio, Pisces and Cancer) and Taurus. Michæl Nace saw this all as another form of prejudice, and a sinister form at that. I said that in reality if these Girls really want to like you, they'll find something in your chart to like you about. I pointed out that the tragedy of my Mars being in Pisces does not seem to hurt my relationship with Sara.
Michæl Nace and I were getting along very well again, just like Friday night (Saturday night had been some sort of anomaly and in any case he hadn't apparently sensed how irritated I'd been by him then.) He said he would like to move down here, and I agreed I'd like to live here too, but not here, not at this house. I'd much rather live in Charlottesville. Michæl Nace heartily agreed, and suggested we could be housemates. This seemed like a very good idea to me.
Meanwhile Zachary and Raphæl showed up in Raph's green Volvo to collect some equipment for a performance they would be doing tonight...where else but at the Jehu End of the World Party? All the strings were coming together. The last of these was Josh Smith, who'd spent the night with a band of dread-heads called The Odyssey and this girl named Carrie. They all arrived in a car that from the distance might well have appeared to contain Eric the Huffanator Huffman. That would have been interesting, and Michæl Nace, on hearing me mention that possibility, was eager to have me do all the talking. But no, it was Josh being dropped off. He too would be riding in Michæl Nace's car to make his presence felt at the Jehu End of the World Party.
We grew tired of waiting around the House long enough to be fashionably late. It was time to get over to the cult compound near Schuyler and party as though the end of the world really was coming in only one month's time. So we four: Josh, Jennn, myself and Michæl Nace, piled into Michæl Nace's car and set off down VA 6 westbound (this took a little geographic acclimation in the vicinity of the IGA in Scottsville, where Josh and I had a gentlemanly difference of geographical opinion-but naturally, with my Grand Earth Trine and my Sun in Aquarius in the 11th House, I was the geographically correct one).
The directions from Jehu that had passed through the Pegger were flawless, and it was obvious to all of us once we were at the Jehu End of the World Party. For going high into the tall trees, circling the bushes, and outlining the great cult house itself, were multiple strings of coloured lights, costing as much to energize as a Las Vegas casino. The inside of the house was even more spectacular, in an entirely different way. On the walls occupying seemingly every square inch was art or decorations. And in display cases and on shelves and tables was statuary, jewelry and loot, all laid out vulnerably in opulent spendour. The ceilings had been painted with crude imitations of Giambattista Tiepolo ceiling murals. On tables were many bottles of wine and things to eat. We'd been well hooked up!
Of course, our riff raff couldn't just appear in a party such as this and start partaking. We were going to have to have connections. A number of people asked us what we were about as we made our entrance, and I explained truthfully that we knew Matthew S. Farrell, who in turn knew Jehu. This was all we needed to say, and we were then given permission to devour and drink all that was there. With license such as this, I started drinking vino instantly. Jennn also wanted vino, but she was paranoid because the crowd was very thin at this point in the evening, and what was more, there were several uniformed and armed members of the Nelson County Sheriff's Department, concentrated heavily around the vino. I got her a glass after a fashion, but soon the crowd was thick enough to sufficiently embolden her to get her own. She and I stepped out on the back porch for a moment so she could smoke a cigarette, and I noted numerous six packs of expensive beer there.
The glasses provided by the cult for the drinking of vino were grossly inadequate in terms of capacity and were in anycase made of an obnoxious form of plastic. Despite their limitations, I used them for the drinking of most of the vino I drank at the Jehu End of the World Party. Only later did I wise up and get myself a paper cup.
Sara and Jessika were working in the upstairs kitchen, puttering around and pretending like they didn't know us who had come in Michæl Nace's car. I told Michæl that they were being "snooty" to us, and naturally he informed them of this FEELING I had experienced. Meanwhile, the Pegger was working in the basement, staffing a buffet table stocked with an enormous bowl of spicy fried chicken and a great tub of Kielbasa/Sauerkraut marinade. I tried the Kielbasa/Sauerkraut stuff first because for some reason I was in an experimental mode and it came highly recommended by one of the ladies there. I was amazed at how good it was, given the fact that I thought I liked neither Sauerkraut nor Kielbasa. Since I was hungry, I ate a lot of that, and then moved on to the chicken. O, how can I say how much I like chicken? Especially that chicken. Let us just say that there were so many bones in my plastic bowl that I was forced to empty it so I could fit some more chicken therein for continued gluttony. Who knew when I would be eating like this again? This was, after all, the Jehu End of the World Party.
I chatted about the cult with Patrick Reed's father, Ernie Reed, who is a colleague with my father in the regional wilderness preservation movement. Ernie explained a few of the basics of the cult, one being that they all have agreed to live a life of abstinence and a modesty. Everything they own has been obtained either cheaply or from rubbish bins and restored. Ernie apparently has such a close friendship with the cult that he didn't want to give me a bad impression of them by telling me the cult's more interesting traits, such as their belief that the end of the world would come in one month's time and that only those who had moved to Charlottesville would be saved.
I'd thought ahead sufficiently to bring my video camera. Yes, if the end of the world should have arrived a bit on the early side, it would be have been captured on video tape for residents of the Next World to sit and chortle at with nostalgia. I captured a few crowd scenes here and there, with a good mix of different people including short dark cult members, most of the employees of The Java Hut, Mudhouse and Higher Grounds and Patrick Reed (in his normal attire, a white scarf, though his overly clean hair seemed to be running away with him) and his parents.
I videotaped some of the performance that Zachary and Raphæl gave in the basement of the Cult House. Zachary played a violin at first, then an electric guitar while Raphæl played his five string electric bass. The principle thing I recorded that they performed was a song that might be called "Rain Gorgeous." Jessika informs me that this song is one of several that Zachary wrote as a means of dealing with an infatuation he'd developed for Jatasya early in the Summer. The song is really very well written, and has grown on me since watching the videotape. The lyrics go something like:
Zachary sings, "Building tumble smile..." Hear the actual recording of Rain Gorgeous made at the Jehu End of the World Party. It is a 700K RealAudio file and runs for SEVEN MINUTES.Butterfly broken away stumbled in for a genuine surprise
Wiser than her years and floating like Halloween...in the rain
Sitting in a bathtub thinking she's the one for paradise
Slice of dream world cake I'll soon electricity
Rain gorgeous deep forest in her eyes to explore
Rain gorgeous gossamer hair weave building tumble smile that
While she sleeps I'll spin a ladder to her spirit
While she sleeps I'll climb the universe
Let myself fall into her arms
And I'll gently disappear holding nothing but the notion
That if fish can fly so can I
Starcrossed paths needle though she's bubbling at the seams
But it seems it all fades away
Snails and bells and acorns ring with possibilities yeah
Rain gorgeous deep forest in her eyes to explore
Rain gorgeous in blossom where?
In a day dream hold me away, smile again but
While she sleeps I'll tell her
While she sleeps I'll say
While she sleeps I'll whisper in her ear
Rain gorgeous deep forest in her eyes to explore
Rain gorgeous gossamer hair weave ladadadadada daydream smile
But while she sleeps I'll tell her
Have you seen that Bavarian Boy on the bass he's gonna get funky
He's gonna get get get get get get get get
funky funky funky funky funky funky funky funky
While she sleeps I'll take it to the end
While she sleeps I'll bury myself in a little three-foot grave
I'm a vampire
While she sleeps I'll sigh and wait for the morning with no sleep
You don't have to keep letting me know
You don't have to keep letting me know
You don't have to keep letting me know
There's something's stuck to my lips it's your smile.
I subconsciously caught the post-modern "Bavarian Boy" reference to Raphæl and panned to him briefly.
Patrick Reed (right) conspires with mallfellow Noah at the Jehu End of the World Party.
Jennn ran the camera on a few occasions, but she did so completely incompetently. What's more, while I was recording stuff, she often came up and stood too close in the camera and chanted things like "Destroy all American machines! Destroy all American machines! If it doesn't have a choke, I don't want to know 'em!"
There was an upright piano pretty much in the middle of all the activity on the main floor. I was sufficiently emboldened by drink to play my little piano thing that I always play, which consists of nice little triplets in the manner of Beethoven's Moon Light Sonata. Michæl Nace was at my elbow to encourage me to push the envelope of beautiful music. On his suggestion, I would shift up a half step every now and then, and what had been a magical moment suddenly sounded possessed by demons. It was such a spooky thing to do that I felt it important to warn mothers with small children before I did it. And I did it a lot. I played fast and slow, never chaotically, but mostly loudly. It was Jehu himself who finally told me to stop, that people couldn't hear each other talk.
Jessika (left) and Sara in the Persian Room.
Sara and Jessika were acting a little less aloof. Sara even did a momentary Shark Face after Michæl Nace saw her acting all reserved and said "No Shark Face tonight!" Jessika thought well of my idea that I obtain her a paper cup containing vino. So, just after the lighting of a Mennorah, I went for a bottle, but ended up knocking down another, causing a scramble by one of the suddenly obviously irritated cult members then to upright the vino (it was red) and then to soak up the spill. I was by now pretty intoxicated, and this sort of thing happens when people as intoxicated as I was are in attendance at your party.
Jessika and Sara took me upstairs to glance into the special dark and spooky "meditation room" where one must, in order to enter, take one's shoes off in reverence. But there was no spirit present deserving that manner of respect from us, so we went to the other end of the upstairs, to "The Persian Room" which looked like it had sprung into three dimensions from the setting of a Jean-Auguste Ingres painting. For covering every square inch of the walls and the pitched ceilings were billowing tapestries in all manner of compatible harem colours. The furniture was more contemporary, but not in an æsthetically unpleasant way. The overall impact was impressive indeed. I kept remarking how one would hardly know he was in Nelson County to be in a room that so obviously belonged in Turkey.
Jamie Dyer turned up, and soon he'd secured permission to play a very fine acoustic guitar that was there. His first song was very good, and like several of his songs, I recorded it all on video tape. The lyrics, to a bouncy rhythm, went like this:
Jamie Dyer on guitar in the Persian Room.Who am I, do you recognize me?
'Course you don't, I'm nobody
I have no money, I have no name
I tear the tickets at the hall of fame.
I buy my dinner at the 7-11
Eat it in the kitchen while I watch TV
I love my free time, I love my wife
We're happy living on the B side of life.
I got lucky, I had a band
We had a song it went to number three
Made lots of money, had lots of friends
Had lots of pretty people hanging on me.
Now all I want is a place to hide
A place that's safe from the chaos outside
Cold refrigerator, warm bed,
A place where no one sticks a gun to my head.
We had the key to the city
But the doors that did unlock
Were full of overpriced portraits
Engaged in cheap small talk.
Turn down the lights, turn up the radio
Don't know the singer but I love that song
I know that I'm no Beridzhnikov baby
I want to dance with you all night long.
We'll buy our dinner at the 7-11
Eat it in the kitchen while we watch TV
Tonight's my birthday, we'll have a party
Thirty with a bullet on the B side of life.
The acoustics in the Persian room were very good (dead), so the audio was outstanding on the videotape. To enliven the video, I interspersed shots of Jessika singing along and Sara doing the Shark Face with Jamie Dyer playing and tapping his feet. When Sara ran the camera, she documented my drunken attempts to sing along (while of course not knowing any of the lyrics) as well as Raphæl, grim look on his face, hands resting together on his knee, outfitted as he was in a black jacket, white shirt, black tie, looking like he was attending a funeral. He was upset that few were in the audience during his and Zachary's final set down in the basement earlier. Jamie played a couple of less interesting songs, one being specifically about Charlottesville, and then he asked Sara if it was okay for him to play the one he wrote for her. A little interesting dialog went down after Sara said okay:
Jamie Dyer: I wrote this song for Sara, and we'd never even slept together yet. Ever, I mean yet. Ever.
The Gus (reminding Jamie): Yet!
Jamie Dyer (Suddenly serious): I'm kidding. Well, she ain't got enough money.
Sara: Now I'm on food stamps.
The Gus: Do you take food stamps, Jamie Dyer?
All this chit chat by Jamie Dyer about his charging for sexual services stemmed from an idea Sara had had a few days prior about a way to raise some money: by having Jamie Dyer pay her money for what he's been trying to get for free from her for some time. And so tonight, Jennn feeling it necessary to be Sara's pimp, gave Jamie Dyer this indecent proposal. And this was floating around in Jamie Dyer's head at the time. I laughed hysterically here and there and made comments during the song, which went like this:Am I a bubble to the surface of her thinking yet
Or lost in the mythic maze of her neural net
Heard she almost died in Wildwood crossing the street
Started thinking of something else, forgot to move her feet
I wish she'd pay attention to me
But she's got ADD.
Blank look on her face, it's a momentary lapse
She opens her mouth to speak, I hear a randomly firing synapse
She thinks about me every now and then
But she can't remember to take her Ritalin
I wish she'd pay attention to me
But she's got ADD.
THC and LSD, the way they edit that crap on TV
Dear do you know my personal history?
I wish she'd pay attention to me
She's got my heart, she'll forget all about me
She's got a fine heart and ADD.
I was by now so drunk that my presence had to be acknowledged even by those who did not know me. I made nasty comments about the Christmas caroling downstairs around the piano, though in truth it did not really offend me.. I even started making references to the great red one below, saying "Satan, Satan 6-6 Satan." There was a girl who sat beside me during all of this, and when I got up to leave or get vino or whatever, she could be heard on the tape saying in an irritated voice, "This guy is like...." but then Sara clicks off the tape.
Down in the kitchen, then, I was recording the waning moments of the Jehu End of the World Party as the Girls washed dishes and drunken people said their goodbyes. Every now and then I asked Jessika a puzzling question. Had she, I wanted to know, ever had a "Christmas Brew®"? One of the cult members, Isis, a mysterious woman with an Isræli accent and the power to foretell the future, appears briefly on tape, and this scene transpires:
Isis wonders about golden pumpkin hair. Download a 16 KILOBYTE sample of the Gus chatting with Isis at the Jehu End of the World Party. In the background can be heard Sara Poiron and some random strangers
Isis: You're taking video?
The Gus: Video. What do you think?
Isis: I think it's a lovely thing, but now are you taking it ....for who?
The Gus: For meeeee, and for the whole world.
Isis: You're going to making a movie about this....
The Gus: A movie will be made, and you'll be in it. Big Fun One it will be called.
Isis: Big what?
The Gus: Big Fun?
Isis: Big Fun.
The Gus: Big Fun One. And you'll be in it.
Isis: And we shall wait....shall I make like golden pumpkin hair and then we'll do...
The Gus: What, Big Fun Two? But Big Fun Two....It won't be called Two, it'll be called Big.... it won't even be called Big Fun, it will be called something entirely different
Isis (turning to leave): At that point whatever it'll be called...
The Gus (trying to recapture her attention): It's very post modern.
The Gus: Avante-garde, cutting edge.
Sara (entering fray while washing dishes):Avante-garde cutting edge art film.
Isis: No really, is that....
The Gus (adopting a hint of an Isræli accent): Umm Hmm. Don't I look....Do I not look Avante-garde?
Isis: You absolutely look avante-garde, feel avante-garde, strait from Moamar Tahr. I mean...absolutely.
The Gus: That's me. I am like... Cutting edge. Anyway, Big Fun One is being made as we speak.
Isis: But are we going to see it, that is my question?
The Gus: You'll see it. It'll be at Vinegar Hill.
Sara: Vinegar Hill....we're going to try to get it to show....
Stranger: Oh no it's home movies! (Giggle!)
Sara: At the Vinegar Hill Cinema?
Isis: There was another one being made of us was the Vinegar Hill, I never went to see that one, why don't you bring it here then I'd get to see it.
Sara: Okay, we'll try that. We'll try to play at the Mud House too.
The Gus: Mud House. Excelementé.
I also captured an older gentleman, so drunk he can barely walk or stand, receiving assistance from cult members as he is about to leave. He mumbles something at me, but it is completely incomprehensible.
Peggy and Sara cleaning up in the waning moments of the party.
The fun is only just about to start, but this is the end of my video taping for the evening. The Girls continue to bustle around, and I was doing my best to provide entertainment. A couple of friendly cult members materialized in the kitchen and I engaged them in a little friendly drunken conversation. I asked them if they'd ever talked to a nazi skin head of late. Then, without pausing, I said that nazi skinheads hold that the conventional view of the Vikings, that they had horns on their helmets, is just a vicious rumour started by namby-pamby and too-often pillaged Christian Europeans to paint the Vikings as satanists. I said that upon learning that the Vikings did not actually have horns on their helmets, I lost all interest in them. All day, to Jessika especially, I'd been saying that I hate horns in music but I love them on the heads of animals or the helmets of Vikings.
Last week Jessika had introduced me to a palm-sized action figure with an ugly Neandertal face, long hair and poor posture. She'd told me a story about some children seeing her petting it and, thinking it a real life little creature, had wanted to hold and pet it. This tale had naturally caused my creative juices to flow. What, I'd postulated, would these children have done if the little creature had leapt up onto a stump and begun singing (and at this point I grabbed a blue pole and began to dance) "I'm a little munchkin yes I am..." Since doing that last week, Jessika has occasionally begged me to do my "Little Munchkin Dance." She finds it much funnier than it actually is. Tonight, then, at the Jehu End of the World Party, as the Girls had to toil ever onward while I was free to play, I felt I owed it to Jessika to do my little Munchkin dance. Not having the blue Munchkin Pole handy, I grabbed a gorgeous and expensive golden ladle and began to prance around. In amongst all of this, one of the cult members entered the kitchen toting a three foot long sinuous horn from some kind of African ruminate. Instantly I began to make favourable comments about the horn, since it was the sort that was to be part of somebody's head and not the sort people foolishly make music with.
The cult member, however, met my joviality with a stern visage. He accused me of stealing his beers and he demanded to know where I put them. I asked what he was talking about. "Beers? What beers? What are you talking about?" That sort of thing. The guy with the horn convincingly stated that he had mental telepathy and that is how he knew I'd stolen the beers. Soon there were other cult members standing in front of me in a semi-circle, taking turns accusing me of grand beer theft and trying to find out with whom I had come and with whom I intended to leave. I wasn't proving very co-operative, however, since I didn't claim to have any knowledge of the beers and I stated that I didn't have to tell them who I'd come with and who I'd be leaving with. I said that this was a party....I could leave with anyone. One of the cult members whispered in my ear and asked if I was really drunk. Somehow, I managed to hijack this subconversation and divert it to the subject of Astrology. I guessed he was a Scorpio. But he wasn't. He wasn't even a water sign. Irregardless, he seemed to be enjoying the Astrology conversation much more than the confrontation over allegedly stolen beers, and it was with a start that he realized that he'd been manipulated into talking about Astrology. He said, "You really think you're cute, don't you." I still had the expensive golden ladle in my hand and waved it as though it were a blue Munchkin Pole, saying, "Of course I'm cute! I'm a little munchkin!" This was perhaps the most memorable quote of the whole evening. Without knowing the context from which it had come, it must have caused delicious puzzlement to the self righteous cult members who pressed ever closer. One lady pressed her forefinger hard into the middle of my chest, claiming she knew murderers, thieves, drug dealers, all kinds. Thus she knew all about the likes of me. I learned later that she was the head of the Florida Prison system. God knows, I had to be bad if she thought so. Someone quizzed me about where I was from. "Staunton," I said matter-of-factly. (Michæl Nace told me later that it seemed I developed almost a "good ole boy" accent as I gave the name of my town, and it made me seem overly snide given my weak position in this confrontation.) One of the cult members took the ladle from my hand as I commented on the beauty of it. He said something to the effect that I'd probably never had any experience with anything so classy as that ladle before. Following this logic, I heartily agreed, saying "I come from the wrong side of the tracks." Since they obviously were not going to have any satisfaction interrogating me, the cult members turned their attention to my friends in the kitchen (and everyone I knew was there). To one such question, Sara admitted "I know him, sort of." She had been seen interacting with me all evening and it would have been difficult to deny that she knew me. Finally, though, real ice was broken when Josh Smith admitted I'd come with him. Now all attention shifted to Josh. In what car had we come in? So Michæl Nace broke down and announced that I'd come in his car. Would it be okay, the cult members asked, if they checked his car? Sure, there didn't seem to be a problem with that, so out they went to check the car. That's when the nervous wait commenced. Who really knew what would be found at the car except me...and I didn't know exactly how it would go down. I thought maybe it would be a good idea if I could discretely vanish or something (that is a capability I have no matter where I go). But as I was going towards the door, a tall guy with an old face said in a kind voice that maybe we should just wait until the others returned from checking the car.
There they were, back from the search of Michæl Nace's car. Michæl Nace was in the front and was full of sober anxiety. He said, "We've been told to leave. NOW!" So I ran around and scooped up the video camera and my long black The Gap Trench Coat that I'd found in a dumpster in Oberlin, Ohio back in May, and Michæl Nace, Jennn and I, escorted by a short little The Gathering cult member, went out to the car. The short little The Gathering cult member said, "If you stole our beers we won't have to do a thing. Karma will do it all for us. I'd be careful on the road home tonight." He turned and marched quickly back towards the beautifully lit cult house. The moment he turned around, I started throwing items that had been under Michæl Nace's car onto the back seat. I managed to get three six packs of Christmas Brew® and a bag of wonderful Higher Grounds coffee. But Michæl Nace was in a hurry. He didn't see any use in lingering over a crime scene. So I had to leave two six packs behind. These we ran over as we were driving away.
We had no really good idea where we were going. It certainly wasn't the way we'd come, and the object at this point was simply to get away. I kept thinking how lucky it was that Michæl Nace had locked the doors of his car. Otherwise, on initially stealing them, I would have placed all those beers in the car in plain sight for when the angry cult member search had happened. Still, I'd thought that all that loot under Michæl Nace's car there in the cult parking lot was completely obvious and would be seen, but luck was at least to an extent on my side this particular night, even though I was dealing with people with the power to work all manner of paranormal miracles. We ended up on a gravel road, heading in the wrong direction, though this wasn't clear until we'd gone as far as the town of Norwood, which is more than half way to Lynchburg from Scottsville. Once we were heading in the correct direction and it became clear that Karma-enforcing aliens were not dogging us in the heavens, we could chat more comfortably about the night's events. Michæl Nace told me that during the tension-filled initial walk out to his car (when the beer had been unsuccessfully sought), he'd told the cult members that "my friend" (me, The Gus) was very drunk and it seemed entirely possible that I had in fact stolen beers. Michæl Nace had every reason to expect the stolen beers to be discovered; he was the only one who clearly knew about my beer theft; towards the end of the party I'd kept updating him about what he should remember not to run over when we finally departed.
Back at the House, where heat pours forth with stinginess but the spirit issues forth copiously, we sat laughing and joking at the expense of The Gathering. By now, Jennn and Michæl Nace were in agreement that my botched beer theft had been a very cool thing indeed. If nothing else, it made a wonderful story, on the scale of other excellent stories I've heard or told (examples being The Hit Man of Johnny Boom Boom Mancini , The Chicken Experiment, The Stalking of Andrew Faust, and A Somewhat Fictionalized Account Of The Goings On Between Jim Eriqicker And Eriq Schliqer During The Fall Of 1993). We drank stolen beers to celebrate the evening's fun. Even Michæl Nace, despite his temperate tendencies, drank one of the hard-won Christmas Brew®s (manufactured by Anheuser Busch, St. Louis Missouri). For Jennn, perhaps the excitement even had a hand in ameliorating some of the misery resulting from Farrell's failure to show up at the Jehu End of the World Party. The score for Farrell: two disses in two nights.
Then Peggy's car showed up and everyone else from the party (Josh, Zachary, Peggy, Sara and Jessika) came streaming in. Suddenly I felt really weird about everything I'd done that night, especially when Jessika asked me in an especially suspicious voice, "What did you do?" So I went in the living room and sat there on the couch, but I still could get no peace, for in the doorway, casting aggravating shadows into the darkened room, Zachary and Peggy were hugging each other in a way that spoke only of sex, one of the farthest things from my mind just at that moment.
I ended up in Sara's room, sleeping or maybe just resting on her air mattress bed while the others were down in the kitchen having a loud and laugh-filled conversation. I was FEELING alienated from all that, and this alienation continued right through the hollering of "The Gus, The Gus!" that eventually happened. It could have been that just then my Karma was being dealt justice and I could feel a cold fighting for possession of my body.
Sara came by and advised me that it might be a little crowded if I chose to sleep on her bed tonight, since she and Jennn would also be sleeping there. I moaned something to the effect that I was very comfortable where I was, thank you. So then Sara threatened me that if I puked on her bed, she'd kill me.
Sara came by again, saying that Big Fun was going to be happening. "Big Fun? What Big Fun?" I grumbled from beneath my protective attitude. So then she started slapping and pummeling me in her characteristically ineffectual fashion. Again Sara urged me to come along. She said we'd be going to a 24 hour Kroger place to buy cigarettes, of which there was now a desperate lack. This seemed like a vaguely fun thing to do, especially since I had been doubting my popularity with the Girls ever since they'd returned from the Jehu End of the World Party.
We (Sara, Josh, Michæl Nace, Jennn and myself; Jessika and the others were asleep or at least on beds at the time) sat for awhile in the kitchen and I drank another Christmas Brew®. Then we talked about what had become of Peggy and Zachary. Sara had looked into Peggy's room (the door had been open) and seen them both topless, fondling each others' chests. So now, she concluded, they were doing or had just done "The Butt." Sex seemed to be what all of us wanted to talk about for some reason, though this was uncharacteristic of either Sara or myself (recently, at least). Michæl Nace remarked on how odd it was to be discussing sex with Sara and The Gus. If Jessika had been there, it would have been even more odd. Now Josh Smith delights in talking about sex, and he made a prediction that Sara and I would soon be doing the Uh Huh. He acted like he was joking, but right away it was obvious to me that Michæl Nace and Jennn believed him. So Sara had to say something, and she made the weak suggestion that soon Josh would be doing the Uh Huh with me, which fell flat because no one believed it. I felt the need to tell Sara "I had been considering puking in your bed, Sara, but then I remembered that you'd said you would kick my ass if I did, and I know you can kick my ass because you did once before." She felt the need to come over and pummeled me again.
On the long ride to the 24 hour Kroger on Charlottesville's 29 North in Michæl Nace's car, I rode in the back seat between Sara and Josh. I will admit that I was basking in all the glory this event had given me, at least in the eyes of these sociopathic youth of today. Michæl Nace's Catholic morals hadn't been too badly shocked by my performance. He was given to saying on a few occasions things such as, "Though I don't condone what you did, their [the cult members'] attitude was terrible...." He kept comparing the religious hucksterism of the cult members to tee vee evangelism and the selling of snake oil. After the umpteenth time of Michæl Nace saying, "Though I don't condone what you did..." I suggested that he might as well come out and condone what I did. Sara revealed what all had been said following my departure. It seems the girls were all made to sit in a room and chat with the various cult members in a rather informal way. Isis did most of the talking, and using her power to foretell the future, predicted that Peggy would be a mother. Isis then predicted that Sara would be a teacher, a fine teacher at that. But the future for Jessika had been less settled. "Watch out" was the advice that Isis gave her. Isis could see that Jessika is too easily controlled by others and that she is too tolerant. After all of these forboding warnings, Isis predicted that Jessika would some day be either an actress or a model. People are always predicting this fate for Jessika simply because she is beautiful. In so doing they are limiting their analysis to her surface; beneath Jessika's beauty is a personality worth much more than its packaging. As for the cautions provided by Isis: of course, the "others" and the people doing the "controlling" of Jessika were not specifically mentioned, but the Malvern Girls sensed that these were direct references to me. Isis called me "Slime" and "Evil." Other The Gathering members wondered how old I was, thinking that maybe I was just a teenager. Isis has a mysterious way of saying things at times; she said of me, "He is God" (that being apparently a bad thing) because "He judges himself." No, I don't understand the meaning intended here, but that is what the Girls claim that she said. It turns out that I had served a very useful purpose at the party; I'd been the embodiment of evil, a cause to be rallied against. I learned the next day from Jessika that this whole beer theft thing had been a very big deal, with people calling the cult house after the end of the Jehu End of the World Party, wanting to know if, since beer had been stolen, everything was alright. Jessika also told me that Isis had suggested that we'd probably read about the beer theft the next day in the newspaper. The Girls had done their best to mend fences, inviting cult members to visit the House, and being as conciliatory as possible. They also had expressed the hope that their association with The Gus hadn't reflected too badly on them. However, Isis could not give then that measure of reassurance; she informed them that I had indeed tainted them.
I waited with Michæl Nace in the car while the girls and Josh went in for cigarettes. Michæl Nace spoke of Peggy. Never admitting to having been in love with her, he said that he'd misread her, that she was too "crunchy" for his tastes, and that it was probably a good thing that she was now with Zachary. This all sounded like sour grapes to me, so I defended Peggy's honour, stating that despite her dread locks, she really isn't all that crunchy. But Michæl Nace was adamant. Peggy was far too crunchy for him. Jessika, on the other hand...he asked did I see how she looked at the Jehu End of the World Party, and I said yeah, "she's drop-dead gorgeous." He went on to say that Jessika used to be all concerned with how she looks, and that in her house in Malvern is a whole basement full of her clothes, but that now she lets slide the whole appearance issue. In the way she looked tonight, Michæl Nace could see real beauty. I found it somewhat odd that he would have to see her wearing formal attire to discover her essential beauty.
On the drive back out to Scottsville, Michæl Nace kept amusing us with various tales from his life. The most interesting of these was the story of some surgery done to enlarge a narrow section of his ureter (in his penis). He spoke of how painful and uncomfortable catheters are, and how erections are not very pleasant with a tube inserted in your penis. This talk fueled an even bawdier sex conversation back in the kitchen of the House. For example, when the subject of premature ejaculation came up, I said that frequently I'll be all ready for sex, "tearing off my clothes, only to stop and start putting them back on again....that's how bad my premature ejaculation problem is." In this same category of embarrassing sexual admissions was Josh Smith's confession that his former wife, the mother of his child, lost her virginity to none other than Bad Cheese when she was thirteen.
I woke up the next day fairly early on the couch in the living room, feeling energized by my hangover, but tortured by a minor sore throat as the incurable common cold took hold of my flesh. Michæl Nace said goodbye as he and Jennn finally were departing for Philadelphia. Sara had thought they'd never leave, but when they did, they went silently. They would have some exciting stories to tell....no doubt soon they and all their friends would be streaming south to take up permanent residence in Charlottesville, the land of Big Fun. I went upstairs to take a bath and there hatched a plot to make The Gathering cult fall in love with me, despite the rocky start of our relationship. I would offer then a painting, a commission to do a painting, or else a mural, free of charge, plus letters of apology to the editors of the local papers, along with a one week abstinence from alcohol in return for a restoration of Karmic balance. I could see all manner of opportunity in this approach, including the display of one of my paintings in one of the better traveled houses in the greater Charlottesville area. It would be a crowning glory to this tale to have The Gathering cult hailing me as its new Messiah.
An Evil Munchkin with Karma to Fix
Jessika was the first one to see me, and she said that I'd been bad. She even suggested that I had earned one of those dreadful "Bad ____" names, then, on considering that, figured that maybe I was just to be called "Bad." But there was more to be said on this issue. She reminded me that I'd said "I'm a little Munchkin" and started laughing. It was good I'd said that, because it seemed to be a big distraction from the serious issues in the story. The cult members had apparently had some success in convincing Jessika that I had done wrong in stealing stuff that was free anyway. They'd opened up their home for the enjoyment of all and I'd had to go and steal the beer!
I told Jessika my idea for fixing my Karma. She wasn't sure that I was going to actually write my letter of apology, and if I did, she had doubts about my sincerity. But, as I pointed out, whether I was sincere or not was irrelevant...it would still have the same positive effect.
We all went into Charlottesville so the Girls could apply for desperately needed jobs. The Grand Air Trine rode in the back, with me in the middle. Josh, Zach and the Pegger all managed to sit in the front (Pegger was driving; it's her Thunderbird). As we rode along we looked at colour xeroxes of photographs that Jessika's mother had sent. One was a stunning multi-snapshot photo montage of the house; it reminded me of similar photography by the Pop Painter David Hockney. Another was a picture of Peggy, dressed as a parody of a Prom Date, with a terrible knife wound across the base of her throat. Back in October in Malvern, Jessika had dressed up as Anastasia (a Russian Czarina Heiress Pretender who used to live a mile closer to Scottsville at the Fairview mansion) for Halloween this year, and Sara and Peggy had been her dead prom dates.
There was a moment when I was alone with Josh in the car, and he asked (as Michæl Nace had the night before) about what's going on with Sara Poiron and myself, and (as I had to Michæl Nace) I said nothing was. I said that I've determined I can have the most social fun by being completely asexual. I agreed that this could well frustrate me sexually, but I said I thought that any resultant sexual tension added interesting energy to the relationship(s) and that the virtues of maintaining asexuality with Jessika and Sara far outweighed the probably fleeting benefits of the Butt, that is given, of course, either one of them actually wanting to have anything to do with my pathetic stuff in this regard to begin with. Josh mentioned that Sara obviously hates him, but I reminded him that she used to hate me too. "In five months time," I predicted, "she'll like you every bit as much as she likes me now."
On the Downtown Mall, Jessika and I were alone for awhile in bozART eating popcorn and talking about astrology as well as what all was said at the Jehu End of the World Party after I left. Jessika didn't seem to have any strong feeling about being singled out for caution about me by Isis. But she seemed to find it interesting; she kept bringing it up.
We tracked down Peggy and Sara in Miller's (the bar). They'd just asked if jobs were available (they'd heard that a bunch of staff, including John Zawacki, had quit recently). But no, there were no positions available. So we went to vino bar called Tastings off the other end of the Mall, and the Girls filled out applications there. I was giving most of my attention to Jessika, suggesting ways to fill out such questions as "where do you see yourself in five years?" At a certain stage, Jessika and I were all alone, and we had to walk through the dreary rain of the Downtown Mall. I asked her what luck she expected to have getting a job at a Tastings when a plastic baby's leg, serving as a lid for a blue bottle, projects from her bag, which is further adorned with various oversized plastic replicas of insects. Jessika thought that if they couldn't take her "leg" she didn't want to work there. I said I didn't like the guy who would be her boss if she did get a job there. He struck me as a mean tightass.
We were our usual odd sight. I didn't have Jessika's blue wig on, but I was wearing my long hooded black wool The Gap Trenchcoat and my oddly worn black steel toed boots. And Jessika was wearing the same coppery lacy dress she'd worn at the Jehu End of the World Party, only she'd put it on inside out so the sheer silkiness of the inside, all irregular in colour from bad dry cleaning, was visible in its own alluring ridiculousness. We passed a boot store, and a solitary man, looking at the window display, turned to see us, and gave us a curt acknowledgment to our reflexive hellos. He was one of the The Gathering cult members! What bad luck, for Jessika to be seen with me the very next day. Now they'd all know that she was a mere servant of Satan.
The weather was so dreary and horrible that we decided not to go to Cabell Hall to watch the video tape we'd been recording. So we just returned to the House. I set up Josh's VCR with a computer monitor and we (Zachary, Peggy and The Grand Air Trine; Josh was at work) watched the video tape we'd made, laughing and commenting the whole time. Jessika and I were also drinking Bad Karma Christmas Brew®s. The video tape was so fascinating to everyone that we had to put it on pause every time some one went to take a pee.