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Blue book in steel; a novel Kitaeff, Richard 1967

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BLUE BOOK IN STEEL a novel by RICHARD KITAEFF B.A., McGill University, 1965 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF M.A. in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Ap r i l , 1967. In p re sent ing t h i s t he s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that tha L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study, I f u r t h e r agree that permiss ion f o r ex ten s i ve copying of t h i s t he s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s representat ives. . It i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t he s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be a l lowed without my w r i t t e n permi s s i on , Department of Creative Writing The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada i BLUE BOOK IN STEEL a novel by Richard Kitaeff i i A B S T R A C T This novel i s concerned in part with the development of the associated feelings of gui l t , atonement and expiation from a young man's c r i s i s of self-betrayal to his c r i s i s of self-sacrifice. It also affirms the absurdity of imposing a personal spiritual quest on a society promiscuously addicted to debased representational modes of expression. The action occurs during one evening in New York, with mixed chronology flashbacks that reveal the evolution of the protagonist's consciousness in the overall mosaic design of a jazz tune. Various media (prayer, psychedelic vision, popular songs, radio program, nightclub routine, etc.), images from the "carny" world, and'but-up" style at heights of intensity a l l serve to externalize events of consciousness. 1 X 1 CONTENTS HEAD CHORUS: Piano Atempo SOLO 1 : Leila's Voodoo Whip SOLO 2 : Marqueta of the Mind SOLO 3 : Saints' Feast CODA : Blue Book in Steel.... i v FOR ANNE, MY PARENTS, WILLIAM BURROUGHS, BOB DYLAN,. AND LEONARD COHEN THANKS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE WRITING, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, AND TO THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN ESTABLISHING THE CONDITIONS NECESSARY TO THE COMPLETION OF THIS NOVEL. "Twice he's wrong, third time he's gone." -Teddy Felton, M.C. at Kit-Kat Club, Vancouver. HEAD CHORUS: Piano Atempo 1 Throughout the a i r l e s s Fourth-of-July evening, Roman candles and sparklers snaked over the East River, now and then momentarily l i g h t i n g up the faces of the mental patients on the i s l a n d , who were gathered outside to watch the spec-tacle as a s p e c i a l t r e a t : one of them, a long-faced French-Canadian, picked up i n Times Square several days before for a s s a u l t i n g passersby i n an attempt to r e c r u i t them for a rebel army, waved his arms and hurled e c s t a t i c Tabernacle's and Grace-a-Dieu's at the fireworks, recognizing them as signals for the m o b i l i -sation of democratic forces for h i s long-awaited invasion of Quebec to topple the autocratic Duplesis regime, which he was convinced had e x i l e d him to l i f e -long imprisonment on t h i s foreign i s l a n d ten years before; while beside him a middle-aged Jew, a former m i l l i o n a i r e who had several years ago withdrawn a l l his money, scattered i t from the top of the Empire State B u i l d i n g , and declared himself a Communist, now f i n a l l y welcomed the Red hordes who were about to d i s -solve the g u i l t of other American c a p i t a l i s t s . Somewhere i n the V i l l a g e , a protest singer intoned: The Second World War came to an end: we forgave the Germans, then we were f r i e n d s . Though they murdered s i x m i l l i o n , i n the ovens they f r i e d , the Germans now too have God on t h e i r side. Up 105th Street from the River as far as Lexington, Puerto Rican men clad i n clean pressed s u i t s and sometimes t i e s sat i n p a r t l y - p a i d for Triumph's and Fury's, which they spent a l l week p o l i s h i n g so that they could s i t i n them on a Sunday or a holiday l i k e today, and smiles played over t h e i r l i p s as they won-dered vaguely what was behind the phrase they had glimpsed i n t h e i r children's h i s t o r y books, "Spanish-American War"; the c h i l d r e n , unwashed and ragged, climbed on top of the cars and jumped high to reach the t a i l s of these comets that made th e i r tenement,'roofs glow l i k e the C h r i s t - c h i l d ' s barn. 2 Monroe, standing across Roosevelt Drive on the River embankment, allowed the irony to flash across his tight mask of desperation, i f only to reaffirm that with less than six months of New York l i f e behind him, he was not yet, like the native, prepared to take the fantastic for granted. He turned back to the River and tapped on pistons and keyboard as the moon drew attention away from the b r i l l i a n t , short-lived intruders with a grotesque dance to the marimba music of a hundred radios a l l tuned to the Spanish-language station. But these hombres are evidently Tonathiuh-worshippers from way back, though here the sun doesn't give them as much brightness in a year as they see tonight. The bright ball in the blue bumped into a clump of white and dropped a piece  of i t s e l f onto the grey-green, and there i t rides, dancing on the tips and g l i d - ing in between, until the low rumble rises and rushes white upon a rock, wet  upon the face, dark on the sand, and- Where has the piece of sun gone now? "Da-a-al Ah, ah! Da-a-a-al" "Keep away from that rock, Monroe, or you'll get splashed 1"  Another rumble mounted to a crash of white over the rock. And another. So  many pieces of bright sun skip over the waves and wash the rock and leave the  face of the rock smiling with them. Face wet, maybe some sun there too. Why does the sun taste salty? "Ahl.Da-a-a! Ah! Da-a-a!" "That's a good baby. Just stay right where you are, boychik, and keep out  of the sun." Sun-bathing w i l l inevitably have in North America the proscribed status that psychedelic drugs now suffer: even babies w i l l be pinched. Suriheads w i l l be apprehended on the beaches, mountaintops, rooftops, clotheslines; they w i l l be tossed in solitary, and their homosexual guards w i l l come on with, "How 'dja get your groovy tan, sweety?" Public health officers w i l l issue public warnings 3 against "taking extra-terrestrial substances into your body"... FROM CHIEF OF NARCO SQUAD TO ACTING HEAD OF HOLY SOCIETY OF TONATHIUH-WORSHIPPERS, JUNE 19th, 1975-With summer solstice almost upon us once again, I feel i t my duty to repeat the warning which I issued to your organization last year at this time, when we launched a rehabilitative offensive which culminated in the arrest of your leader, Sol S. Beams, New Thing jazz musician and certified herbalist, after he was re-ported floating under the Golden Gate on a raft of 24-karat cymbals tied together by daisies and sunflowers, his body coated with an unidentified iridiscent chemi-cal and his perception of time and space altered, as he admitted, in a most "tasty" manner.... A new odour penetrated the prevailing atmosphere of River sewage and street tar as a vacant-eyed lush bore down in a parody of a ballet spin. Back to the water: in the fiery blasts, faces of old men--and one middle-aged man smiling painfully.... Monroe's father, Boris Schallman, did not look up from the carbon-copy i n - voices headed "The Canadian Zionist Monthly Bugle, Gottigen St., Halifax, N.S."  spread out on the blanket before his crossed-legged stocky form. Light coloured sand stretches in waves as far as walls of rock and patches  of green at the sides. But no sun dancing on the sand, and rocks dry and d u l l .  Small rocks flat or round, smooth or pointed. "Da-a-a!" "Careful you don't hurt yourself with those stones, Monroe. Look at our  l i t t l e pioneer, Eva. Already he works with the land." Monroe's mother looked up from her book with unsmiling eyes.  "Don't be a fool, Boris! Save talk like that for your newspaper 1" 4 In the Bessie Smith r e v i v a l s i s s u i n g from the loudspeaker of a passing tour boat, he t r i e d to discover L e i l a ' s softness at the core of her songs and dances at the Uptown tonight: Old man fought i n the b a t t l e , o ld man got burned again  today.... s i l e n t t i n g l i n g hot between the thighs ... Nobody knows you when  you're down and out....cradling obscure forever i n her f u r - l i n e d cunt... Well 1 hate to see the evening sun go down.... loving as you might take a bath i n sunlight and dry yourself with wind. For he yearned to crack that bitchy as-sumption of the reasonable, that men so often evade through some kind of inno-cence. ... Boris Schallman's features tightened and he fixed h i s blue eyes on the dark  wet sand. "Why do you have to say things l i k e that, Eva?" " I t ' s the t r u t h . Zion i s oceans away, and you forget there are other things." With every crash of wave upon rock, squeals from above, l i k e her v o i c e .  Sometimes, from far across the grey-green, long drones, l i k e h i s voice. Long  drone -- and rumble r i s i n g -- crash -- and squeals. And — "Of course there are." "No, B o r i s . You don't believe i t just because I t e l l you." A huge f l a r e hung i n the a i r for a f u l l ten seconds and dropped down over the i s l a n d park where Monroe often went to study. The French-Canadian f e l l to h i s knees, crossed himself interminably and muttered, "Dieu sauve 1"; the ex-m i l l i o n a i r e Jew y e l l e d , "give 'em h e l l l I'm on your side, balabashiml" Into the whistle of the tour boat, Monroe c r i e d , "Why don't you love me?", then suddenly jammed h i s hands into h i s pockets and looked down, as the boozehead, stumbling 5 f a r t h e r along the embankment, turned i n s u r p r i s e . Monroe remembered "Honi  s o i t qui mal y pense", the i n s c r i p t i o n i n L e i l a ' s antique copy of the Blue  Book, d i r e c t o r y of the " s p o r t i n g women" i n New Orlean's S t o r y v i l l e ("the only d i s t r i c t of i t s k i n d i n the States set aside f o r the f a s t women by law"); he began to laugh s o f t l y . As i f the gaseous atmosphere of a glass-covered world had suddenly grown too hot, the a p p a r i t i o n i n the flaming water shattered with a thunderous s p l a s h . A spotted cat had leaped over the c l i f f and now swam about contentedly. L i k e that f i r s t time at the beach, when he had f r i g h t e n e d h i s parents so much.... The t a l l white cat perches erect on the rock and the water returns h i s yogi's  s t a r e . Closer and c l o s e r , s i l e n t l y over the sand and pebbles, g e t t i n g c l o s e r  to the supple, unmoving form. The t a i l twitches and the whiskered face t u r n s .  At once, the t a i l and s o f t l y rounded behind arch upwards, and the f r o n t legs  s t r i k e out towards the l i n e of the t i d e . Down the beach and i n t o the water  a f t e r h e r , and deeper i n t o the water. The gentle grey hump heaves s l i g h t l y ,  moving s t r a i g h t ahead; the t a i l continues to t w i t c h , making a l i g h t s p l a s h i n g  sound and sending a spray over her wake. Closer to that s i l e n t grey. Cat  smell strong. Water up to the c h i n . Reach f o r the t a i l -- the f u r r y , t w i t c h - ing t a i l . Touch of wet f u r . A cat's loud screech, s c a r l e t l i g h t , screams  from the shore, then the drop i n t o a grey world. Monroe gaped at the s p e c t a c l e , f e l t h i s cotton j e r s e y s t i c k i n g to h i s chest, and swayed at the edge of the embankment, panting s l i g h t l y , u n t i l a plump white hand touched h i s arm. He spun around, h a l f expecting to see the pained, middle-aged face from the water. " I f the cow can jump over the moon, then vhy not the cat jumps i n t o i t ? " The 6 s o f t , accented words and the nervous giggle issued from a sardonic mouth s t r e t -ched across a f l o u r y face with blue eyes and r a i s e d brows frozen down into thick-lensed glasses and with gnome-like nose and ears that, taken with the r e s t , sug-gested a youthful Peter Lorre. Monroe's gaze ambled uneasily over the short f i g u r e , dressed i n white s h i r t , coat-sweater and untapered trousers, and leaning on an oak-handled umbrella. "We must have a t a l k , Emil," Monroe began, l i g h t i n g himself a c i g a r e t t e . : " I f ve must, then- " -Emil recognizing the cosmic irony of Monroe's l i g h t e d cigarette promenading before the backdrop of multicoloured comets and exploding s t a r s . " I f ve must t a l k , then l e t us t a l k about a thing as innocuous as Fourth-of-July fireworks. Ve v i l l t a l k less about man than about Superman." Tonight, Monroe resented a l i t t l e having h i s serious intent undermined by h i s friend's charming habit of l e t t i n g a word l i k e "innocuous" f a l l o f f h i s l i p s more e a s i l y than the simple English pronouns whose pronunciation he botched. Was he charming, or just u n s e t t l i n g -- l i k e a precocious child? That inveterate fondness for G.B. Shaw, he had noticed i n other Hungarians: Emil had explained i t once, "In order to s e l l the twentieth century, he uses the Hungarian sales -man's t r i c k of going negative on h i s customers." "Okay, my f r i e n d , then l e t ' s t a l k about you as Don Juan. Let's say that I've asked you to meet me here tonight so that I can rescue you from H e l l . " "''Hell i s myself, and I am ever i n i t . ' " "Fuck you, EmilI" Monroe puffed harder on his cigarette as he grew more i r r i t a t e d with Emil's quickness and his- lobster eyes and h i s giggles. F i n a l l y , he threw the ciga r -ette into the water and gripped Emil's shoulders. " L i s t e n man, we don't r e a l l y have to go through a l l t h i s b u l l s h i t you know!" 7 Emil smiled too hard. "Go ahead, Monroe. What's i n your head?" The f i r e -works had subsided for a moment, and the darkness was more e f f e c t i v e than the smile i n hiding h i s fear. "You ... and L e i l a . " A blue f l a r e overhead -- t i l t l i g h t i n the c e l e s t i a l p i n b a l l machine -- made them both look up. But just as no r e a l action was forthcoming tonight from the Red hordes or the democratic forces, so no great change i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n was s i g n a l l e d . This showdown had been coming for some time, perhaps since Emil had held L e i l a ' s hand too hard the time he was introduced to her by Monroe who was showing her around the music school, or perhaps since Monroe discovered that while he was gigging:,;, Emil was spending h i s evenings watching L e i l a at the Uptown, or perhaps since only a couple of days ago, when i t became obvious that as she was s l i p p i n g from Monroe, Emil was v i s i t i n g her more and more. Yet Monroe knew that a l l t h i s didn't r e a l l y make him angry any more than i t made L e i l a sorry or se c r e t i v e , and now he was just mouthing the words, miming the actions, because the s i t u a t i o n seemed to c a l l for i t . He sought anger rather i n those magnificently poi n t l e s s hassles back at Hatikvoh, the summer camp i n the mountains, where he and Emil had been brought together by music and some dark expiation they were both tormented to perform through i t . . . . Before the door of the cabin now, where a l i n e of towels and bathing s u i t s  dripped i n t e r m i t t e n t l y , forming a turbid pool to catch the morning rays, and  beyond the stables and the pines, mountains blue-grey, cold and s t i l l , while  a l l t i n s e l l e d gladness spreading through the bunkhouse window to melt the paste  of e y e l i d s , to pulse through toes and back again, r u s t l i n g sheets and pushing  up yawn and hmm-ah-h-h don't want to no not yet hmm so\.warm skin and cool green and 8 red i n s i d e . Someone steps, the window squeaks open, l e t t i n g i n low cracking  tar-da-da-da-daah and breath of mountain summer March-like cold ta-da-da-da.-daah  washing over face ta-da-da-da-dah^-daah-da. "Been at camp before?" Ralph, the Negro stable-boy, inquired. Monroe shook  his head and Ralph continued, looking gravely o f f into the distance, "Maybe  hard to get used to. Some of the counsellors pretty turned around. But jus  hang loose. Like p l a y i n a standard i n a d i f f e r e n t key. Hey! Piano-man, eh?"  Ralph studied Monroe with a mysterious g l i n t i n h i s eye. "What kind d you  play? Long-hair s t u f f ? " "Sometimes. But more j a z z . B i l l Evans, McCoy Tyner, C e c i l Taylor. You  know." "No s h i t l " Ralph dropped the bag and beamed at Monroe. "Oh manI This i s  too much I Too too muchl" He giggled i r r e p r e s s i b l y and continued to t a l k quick- l y and gesture with h i s free hand. "Ah'm a drummer myself. Really d i g E l v i n  Jones and Sonny Murray. Ah t e l l ya man i t ' s been fuckin lonesome up here with  nothin but l e c t r i c guitars anrrock n r o l l an a l l that there s h i t . But now- Oh  man, t h i s i s somethin e l s e l We can have sessions, huh?" "Crazy1" Monroe assented, smiling. They turned to peer through the screen door at staggered silhouettes shouting  hoarse commands, as curious eyes perused the newcomer from within the bunk.  "Jus wakin up now. Lots o commotion. You jus better l i k e k i d s , mister 1"  Thev entered the central room of the bunk, large enough for a couple of cots  and heavily-laden night t a b l e s . Between the cots, a bathroom door opened and  shut frequently for a stream of young v i s i t o r s who yawned and rubbed t h e i r eyes  as they flowed l i k e ants from the large, narrow dormitories at the sides. Walls  low and cracked i n places, the skeleton of the roof impended above l i k e a web.  On the wall seve_ral feet above one of the cots, a f u l l - c o l o u r photograph of a 9 nude, the region from her neck to her knees ingeniously concealed from innocent  eves by a flap of cardboard, taped at the top. A dark youth in pyjamas  slouched over the edge of the bed, simultaneously directing t r a f f i c before the  bathroom door, whittling on a tiny figure with hacking but precise motions, and  glancing at an open newspaper. He turned from his tasks to rub his eyes and  watch the newcomer with some i r r i t a t i o n . Ralph introduced Monroe and Emil in a tone of mock authority: "Emil's assis- t i n you with the musical shows, Mister Piano-man. Emil composes elegies and  dirges and a l l that there morbid shit. But right now he's messin with p o l i t i c s .  Ain't that right, Emil?" Emil did not reply at f i r s t , but continued to whittle. Finally he nodded.  "You might c a l l i t that, Ralph. See this newspaper?" He sliced across one of  the pages with his carving knife. "Deutsche Nachrichten: A German-Canadian  Weekly. I read a l l the other German papers too, including the vuns from Germany. In these pages, I've discovered that scores of high-ranking Nazi war criminals  remain in hiding or occupy high government posts under aliases. I keep track  of a l l of them through my scrapbook and my voodoo dolls." - bouncing a few pale  wood shavings in front of his face and grimacing. Monroe eyed him warily, curious yet reluctant to pursue the subject. "You are thinking — Vhy? Vait a moment." Emil disappeared into the bathroom, displacing a couple of toothbrush-wielding kids, and reappeared holding out a  slippery bar of soap to Monroe. "My parents. Also a few aunts, uncles, cousins. Either this or they are bad smells." Emil's voice, suddenly clear as the pedal- point of a baritone, d r i f t s up around the rafters; his face, a thousand ashen  pockets, spirals through the doorway, demobilizes i t s e l f by s p i l l i n g over a  jutting lower l i p . Closer, his voice impinges i t s e l f on every nerve-end, s i b i l - ants belonging with the snake-like motions of his head. "I chust vait for my 10 restitution money to come through. Then I push for exposees,. purges, and my  own kind of quick justice i f necessary." Ralph temporarily broke Emil's death-magnetism by bending to pull out from  under the bed a radio with i t s chassis cracked and tubes and wires hanging out  of the back. "I wouldn exactly say Emil is a fanatic." he grinned, "but look at what he did  to my Grundig the time he explained a l l this to me." They both laughed. "Don't  let the ev i l genius bug you. C'mon, I ' l l show you your cot. It's nex to a bed- wetter but he's not p r o l i f i c , an you can jus y e l l i f you smell any trouble." Ralph helped Monroe with his bags to one of the side dormitories and Emil  returned unsmiling to his whittling and to buttonholing one of the kids with a  newspaper account of a recent convention of boy scout:commissioners that con- cluded the necessity for changing the sissy image of the scouts and preparing  youth to do battle against the enemies of world peace. The fireworks were coming less frequently now, and the mental patients and the Puerto Rican kids with one voice sobbed their protests against going home to bed disappointed of their expectations. "You've been fucking up, man," Emil was saying with slow, sad seriousness, "and she needs someone to take care of her." Monroe suddenly knew that his anger was towards Emil, because he was coming on with this same bloody reasonableness. He fe l t like putting his f i s t through those ice-thick glasses and watching Emil clutch at his blood-spilling eyes. "Emil, do you realize you have a cowlick?.. .Yes..'" -Emil looked uncomprehend-ing- "on top of your head, that's i t . " Emil was feeling around wonderingly in his hair, until he patted the pro-11 -tuberance gingerly. He giggled, and Monroe joined him, laughing hard and pointing, knowing now that they were both merely poor foolish creatures victim-ized by an anger that had i t s source and i t s direction beyond persons or situa-tions, an anger that was born in Monroe long before the music school or Hatikvoh or Emil.... Boris tried in vain to concentrate once more on his account, afraid to break  into the child's cries and his wife's silence. At last, he rummaged among  papers in a folder and pulled out a large photograph, glossy but faded and with it s edges furled. He waved i t boyishly before his wife's hard eyes. "Look Eval Look what Cantor Grossman has given me. A picture he took just  before his escape from the concentration camp at Dachau. See? It's the Jews  with their Nazi guards gathered around the big pit -- Jews waiting to be pushed  into their graves, buried alive. You see? These are the bodies piled on top  of one another just f r a i l skeletons with hollow eyes and sticks for limbs,  most of them half-dead before they got there. And look'." '.'Emil, you funky Hunky, she doesn't need someone to take care of her" - Monroe, s t i l l laughing. "She just wants someone to bang her around so bad she can go to the club every night and sing My-man-he-never-treats-me-rightI DON'T YOU KNOW THAT, YOU FUNKY HUNKY?" Monroe was choking with laughter, and his stomach was tight with crying, so that he had to double up. Emil raised his knee, catching Monroe on the jaw, making him suck in his breath and f a l l forward on his knees. "SHUT UP, MONROE! I don't know what you've been on, man, but you must be so blasted, man, that this time your head has just gone! You're SICK!" With mouth 12 open wide and eyebrows tensely raised in the baby-smooth face, Emil was trying hard to scream. Monroe raised himself quickly, hearing the challenge of lions in Emil's cry: he should never have denied himself that deafening voracious death-attraction towards Emil. He pressed his hands around the warm neck and drew i t to him until Emil pushed him back and tripped backwards himself on his dumb jive-ass Foreign Intrigue trenchcoat, rolled the couple of feet down the embankment to the edge, and — unable to; stop himself -- down into the water with the echoing crash of an ocean wave against a rock. The last rocket of the night lost heart on i t s way to the moon, and burst into a red core fanning to blue bubbles. Another Circle Line tour boat was coming up the River, but i t was hardly close enough yet — even with the sky lighted up -- to the absurd shoot of hair bobbing above the white puppet face with the glasses amazingly s t i l l jammed on and the wheezing cries like those of a paranoid laryngitis victim. That whole summer at the camp he had never bothered to learn to swim. His head went down for the second time and ballooned up out of his trenchcoat in the centre of a circl e of silhouetted figures rock-ing s t i f f l y . Keep away from that rock Emil's face bathed in f i r e Stay out of  the sun Emil's wet face no longer reasonable... Eva turned slowly from the infant and her;gaze of mingled contempt, hurt  and commiseration alternated between the ghostly forms of the wrinkled photograph  and the wildly bobby fleshy countenance of her husband, who had to shout to  make himself heard above the baby's cries. "Look at this bearded alte with the pais, and the t a l l i s over his shoulders and the t e f i l l i n on his arms and the sidur in his hands. That's Rabbi Roth-13 - s t e i n , a'very good man and always a good leader of a l l the Jews i n the camp,  according to Cantor Grossman. He's r e c i t i n g the Hashem for himself and for  the others who are about to d i e . And the Nazis are mocking him, poking t h e i r  guns into h i s side and laughing " • "Ah-h-h-hl Ah-h-h-hl Ah-h-h-hl"  Sounds thrown out over the grey-green are thrown back a l i t t l e . They grow- louder and s o f t e r , louder and s o f t e r , and die there somewhere beyond. Now  more sounds thrown out and back, so f a s t that none appear to die out.,.. The c r i e s grew louder rather than f a i n t e r as Emil went down for the l a s t time, but the tour boat was s t i l l too f a r , and there was no longer l i g h t from the fireworks to locate them. Monroe hung on the c r i e s l i k e a professor at the music school on the playing of an exceptional p u p i l ; he sucked deep on the a i r where l i n g e r i n g sound mingled now with tar smell and River breeze, as i f people could be smoked to get you blasted, although i t would be closer to the truth to say on the contrary that he was taking the cure, getting the monkey o f f , yet high on withdrawal 1 , The tour boat, c a l l e d the Insurrection, f i n a l l y glided by e a s i l y , the guide on board probably making some passing reference to the mental patients and the Puerto Ricans. Its concern for the f i n i s h e d and the expected c h i l l e d Monroe, but he knew he had nothing to fear from i t . How could Emil have possibly known what he was blasted on, since yes Emil himself had been the a d d i c t i o n , L e i l a just maintaining the connection for him. Monroe suddenly regretted the whole conversation with Emil, and generally the whole i n e v i t a b i l i t y of that self-exposing, s e l f - j u s t i f y i n g v e i l of incessant babble, r e a l l y a desperate whining discharged under the guise of discussion or explanation.... 14 "Cantor Grossman says that the rabbi was given an opportunity to escape and  he turned i t down, he preferred to stay with h i s people to the end. Such a  good and holy man I And h i s story w i l l provide the theme of the next cover  story i n the Chronicle — a feature on Jewish martyrdom through the ages, s t a r t - ing with the B i b l i c a l examples of Daniel and Joshua and culminating with Rabbi  Rothstein, t h i s great modern-day martyr. And t h i s p i c t ure w i l l appear on the  cover. Well. Eva? Isrit i t an i n s p i r a t i o n ? " "Ah-hi Ah-hi Ah-hi Ah-hi Ah-hl" Low drone as loud as the rumble and crash of the waves and the sounds from  inside that are thrown back over the grey-green tossing with white. Inside,  the piece of sun grows warmer and pushes harder, pushing the low rumble and  crash up and out, faster and louder, u n t i l outside and inside a l l i s one. Low  drone -- rumble r i s i n g -- crash -- and " B o r i s , for God's sake, stop your y e l l i n g l Can't you see the c h i l d i s burst- ing h i s lungs with crying? You must be out of your mindl" Monroepput h i s hands to h i s ears and t r i e d to look away from the movements on the face of the water where the f a m i l i a r c i r c l e of grey faces was forming and across the pedestrian drawbridge beyond the buildings of the mental h o s p i t a l to H e ll's Gate the railway bridge an i d e a l suicide set-up for the nuts and he only wished i t were possible to cop out on the h e l l that was himself but the hang-up just b u ilds to the point where i t i n f e c t s others so that we do make our h e l l i n others and also our heaveni... The glow died from Boris' face. The blue eyes withdrew beneath a perplexed frowning brow, and he l e t the photograph drop to the sand beside Monroe. "Ah-h-h-h-hi Ah-h-h-h-hl" 15 A piece of sun dancing over the dark forms, men and women standing beside  a large black hole, one standing form wrapped up and mumbling. Bodies l y i n g  i n the hole t h i n with wide-open eyes. Low drone — rumble r i s i n g -- crash —  and squeals, sounding a l l about i n the grey-green-white-blue. Inside and out- side, a l l one now. Low drone rumble r i s i n g -- crash -- and -- " "And take that h o r r i b l e p i cture away from the baby, Boris!" Boris obeyed and returned to h i s accounts i n s i l e n c e . Eva picked up her  c h i l d and rocked him on her lap. "Poor l i t t l e Monroe 1 You',;re having a hard time today, aren't you t i n y baby?" Monroe turned and f l e d from the faces i n the water and e s p e c i a l l y the one smiling p a i n f u l l y across the parkway without looking for the cars and down 105th Street between the s i l e n t tenements f e e l i n g cold without the fireworks but a f r a i d of what they had showed him knowing that you can't ever be high on withdrawal that he would always be hung on withdrawal and as any junky can t e l l you that i s the coldest t r i p might as well have stayed on the habit but what do you do when you don't know that you're hooked and even that you've kicked u n t i l i t ' s too  l a t e . Yet i t wasn't so much t h i s : I t wasn't with him the way i t was with the neigh-bourhood under-21's who mainline themselves an O.D., then d u t i f u l l y take the f e r r y to North Brother Island and make the whole scene at Riverside Hospital --d e t o x i f i c a t i o n ward, k i b i t z i n g with the other spies and cocolas and the nurses (getting them a l l p p i s s e d o f f at you by c a l l i n g them "Mother"), carving on the walls of the solarium the t i t l e "Junkie's Place" over a coat of arms cons i s t i n g of the works. At le a s t they had a name for i t , and so they could be ashamed or even proud of i t -- yes, maybe even some comfort i n that saying, "Once a 16 junkie, always a junkie". (Popper Juan once asked his buddy, "Why do straight John's treat me like dirt?" "Because you're a junkie." Popper Juan stuck out his chest and said, "I'm no goddamned junkie. I'm a Drug Addict, you bastard.") But what do you do when you have a nameless disease and a nameless fear? Where was the detoxification for whatever i t was he thought he was purging by letting Emil die, but which was s t i l l tearing him up worse than any O.D. could? Just before the corner of Lexington, Monroe stopped to watch Anna Martinez sitting on the steps of the tenement across the street, cheerfully rubbing t a l -cum powder on her impregnated tummy and singing, "Please Help Me I'm F a l l - i n " (since her husband l e f t her, she had nothing to do a l l the time but listen to the rock songs on the radio). Yesterday she was at the Botanica that has the advertisement in the window for the cleaning f l u i d that says "Three Days Fast Dying" and she was considering castor o i l , quinine p i l l s , teas and the other purgatives and talking to a comandrona about an abortion, but her friends told her about the talcum powder that would make her baby turn out white. Monroe stared at her until she yelled, "Whatsa matter you want my picture?" and then he wondered what i t was about her that held his gaze more than the other sights in the flea market that was El_ Barrio in these six months of walking briskly close to the wall with hands in pockets and eyes down, on Emil's warning taking 103rd St. after getting off the subway because the cop-shop was on 103rd. When he really looked at Anna Martinez and El_ Barrio now, he decided they held for him both fear — of hearing Emil's voice in their songs --and envy -- of Anna's power to chase purgatives or talcum powder. "Please Help Me I'm F a l l - i n " . Emil had found music in these street: Emil never turned on, never went to parties, wasn't much interested in chicks before Leila, but he listened to the rhythms tapped out on the fire escape outside his window and to the thousand other varieties of real and imaginary drumming here, 17 and he grooved with the Boricua youths that couldn't keep t h e i r bodies s t i l l , and perhaps he treasured the thought that i t wouldn't be such an ignoble destiny to be the Bartok or the Joaquim Rodrigo of East Harlem. Monroe had brought music, but Emil had dis c o v e r e d . i t . Was i t r e a l l y possible that Emil, i n h i s l i f e more than i n h i s death, had been making him young? Now that he r e a l i z e d he may have murdered not only a f a l s e image of Emil but also those young songs that he had wanted above a l l to preserve, he cherished them with an empty longing.... Monroe's mother began to sing Shein V i Di Levona, and when she forgot the  words, she hummed. Grey-green, white creatures and white and blue above a l l steady now, and  rumble and crash more quiet inside and outside, and the piece of sun has spread  a l l over i n s i d e , pushing sound up and out more slowly now. Low drone almost  gone, squeals s t i l l loud but softer than before. Light and dark, l i g h t and  dark, wet sand moving back and f o r t h . "Ah-h-hl Ah-h-hl Ah-h-hl" "Stop crying, l i t t l e tiny'Monroe. Sleep, k l e i n e r , s l e e p — "  A l l dark now, and s i l e n t , except for the low rumble and crash inside s t i l l  and always. If i t was true what Emil had said once, that we sing a song to everything we do, i s i t possible- Was he singing The Star-Spangled Banner when i t happened? The white baby of Anna Martinez now seemed an eventuality that could not be doubted and Monroe was ready to plunge into the ca r n i v a l of El_ B a r r i o . He almost f e l t l i k e passing the hour or so before h i s gig at the Sal l e Sappho 18 with a v i s i t to Mr. Horowitz, the pretzel-vendor in Times Square subway station, who talked always of death, who even wrote a book on i t called Worlds of Death and who was currently investigating the possibility of a Jewish a f t e r l i f e , and to Tommy's on 52nd St. for a beer with Earl, the Negro who cured him of his Whitey ratiocinations his f i r s t week in the States by te l l i n g him, "I am not a cause, man, I am an effect!" But Mr. Horowitz would surely be able to sense in Monroe a fear of death stronger than his own, and Earl's eyes would blaze through his uncertainty about whether he was not a cause after a l l . El_ Barrio i t would be then. Please Help Me I'm F a l l - i n ' . East River water dissolves memories of the slight dark body of Emil and the almost surely white baby of Anna Martinez and sustains the swim of old men's faces and spews up the only br i e f l y submerged realization that Monroe would never be high on withdrawal he could only be hung on withdrawal ... unless ... unless he went to see Leila and she would under-stand and would not hate him. Monroe crossed Lexington Avenue reeling and a wave of nausea pinned him to the side of a building. He wasn't aware of how much the heat had been weighing on him, until a huge Negro wearing a black cape and beret appeared and turned on the nearby water hydrant. The jet of pure liquid miracle drew kids from a l l over the block, shouting "Mira, mfral" and dancing about, worshipfully cupping hands and turning up beatific smiles as one of their number controlled the direction with his f i s t , alternately dousing open tenement windows and passing cars. The spray revived Monroe enough to look more closely at the big Negro, who also paused at the sight of Monroe. For the moments that their eyes met, Monroe saw in the network of black lines radiating over his whites head-lines from Muhammed Speaks DON'T CRY WHEN THEY LYNCH ME and the names in lights at the Apollo Theatre *PARKS PARKETTES CHAMPION TWISTERS*JOCKO ROCKET-SHIP SHOW*CHIFFONS*RUBY AND THE ROMANTICS* and the screaming syllogisms and 19 unequivocal dicta of Harlem Square NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO THE PROGRESS OF THE COLOURED RACE IN AMERICA PEOPLE IN AMERICA A PEOPLE THAT WALK IN DARKNESS GODDAMN WHITE MAN'S GOD 2,000,000,000 (TWO BILLIONS) AFRICANS AND NON-WHITE PEOPLES REPATRIATION HEADQUARTERS BACK TO AFRICA MOVEMENT DOWN HOME BALL. "Policia, policfa I" The Man approached to turn off the hydrant with one firm silent motion and then to beat back the wave of plaintive protest. Monroe and the Negro fled in opposite directions, and his paranoia at the appearance of the bull prevailed over his recognition of the weirdo spade as an avenger of the Black Nats, whose meeting Monroe had disrupted last week with his red-hot reality sandwish. He walked quickly past papered - over windows above tiny bodegas and winced in hurried appraisal of the signs announcing Defective Serviss, Pubic Relation, Heeler & Advizor, and the elegant Happy Valley Animal Funeral Service (-Cadillac Transportation-Visitation of Deceased-). He recalled that Harlem was once pub-liciz e d as the "Happy Valley" for Manhattan millionaires desiring a brownstone, Saratoga retreat, where you-don't-do-but-simply-are. Emil once bought a book at the Botanica called How to Get Your Winning Num- ber and went to an alley down the street to watch Diego, a thirteen-year-old expert at the numbers game, who learned i t from his father, a fundamentalist convinced that God had put him in this neighbourhood to test his faith through the numbers game. While Emil was looking on from a doorway, the Man, a ner-vous rookie, came up and took Diego aside and asked to join the game: Diego wouldn't let him, and the cop f i r s t bullied, then offered to bribe the kid i f he would just forget the whole thing; Diego got scared and started to run, the rookie called out for him to stop, then pulled his gun and shot him. He holstered the gun and looked around frantically, seeing that the other kids had 20 got away and Emil was the only witness. "Listeni"-He was breathing hard and shaking Emil's shoulders. "I told the kid to stop I You heard me, didn't you? Listen, you t e l l them and they won't believe you, unnerstan? At Police Academy, I took a bloody course in human relations, goddamn, and I tried to be diplomatic with that kid. You saw that, didn't you? But he wouldn't stop when I told him to. What else you gonna do when these kids got no dis-cipline, huh? You wouldn't see no guy who went to West Point actin like that, would ya?" Emil shook himself free and walked off. When he got home, Monroe had to stop him from using the gun he s t i l l kept from the Revolution. Perhaps i t was this capacity to react to death that he had feared and envied in Emil. One morning on East 110th Street, a newspaper photographer mistook Monroe for a smackhead, handed him a revolver and offered him a cap of heroin for shooting the next person to turn the corner: Monroe had taken the gun and considered calmly that the cap must contain an overdose, so they would c a l l i t homicide-suicide, then returned both without a word. It had never entered his mind to point the gun at the photographer. He closed his eyes tightly, trying not to cry and wishing he could cry -- yes no better than these Boricuas who don't-do-but-simply-are (so many from the Puerto Rican units k i l l e d in Korea and Viet-Nam because they couldn't understand commands given by officers who didn't know Spanish) -- and seeing again the old man at the Festival of San Gennaro who stopped every few paces and screamed "Cristo vivo I Muerto, no 1" and thrashed viciously at the a i r , and the old man's face had the features of a mad dwarf, Emil's face. Some people say of the Jews, don't they, that they went to their extermina-tion like sheep? He was at East 100th Street now, and down the block he could see the Negro-Puerto Rican church, formerly a storefront synagogue. After the sale was made to the new wave of Harlem residents, some of the Jewish congre-gation asked permission to hold Friday evening services on folding chairs on the 21 sidewalk in front of their former temple. When the weather grew cold and the snow came, the street synagogue died out. What else could be expected? Monroe walked over and sat down on the step. Like the Santo Domingon med-iums who attend at the celebrations of saints' feasts, he invoked the spirits of the dozen or so altes, rocking back and forth as they mumbled the Amidah, while inside the Pentecostal preacher begged forgiveness for his sins and at the mention of each the coloured congregation groaned and yelled "Oh Jesus" and "Emmanuel" and moved into "0 r i s e l shinel for the light is a-comin', my Lord says he's comin' by 'n by..." and afterwards at the record dance canteen in the basement the attending minister made sure that the teenagers danced "f i s h " and not "grind", and outside the altes s t i l l swaying and chanting low. But for those who are s t i l l awaiting the Messiah, patience is only to be expec-ted. Monroe listened where the folding chairs had stood for that Shabat song learned in Ched.er, "The sun in the tree-tops no longer is seen: Come gather to welcome the Sabbath, our Queen", wiped his brow with his shirt-sleeve, and wondered i f they were waiting fori him in Montreal.... Squeak and pound of big brown boots on thin soiled crusts over Cote de Neiges  Snow H i l l white, melting into curb-side slush, where spinning wheels of a s t a l - led car make a low slurping siren. Up ahead, the grey of St. Joseph's a l l those steps a prayer on each one by the really religious you have to be to know  that many hundreds of prayers and the gravestones on the slopes of Mont Royal  marble against a sky red-orange streaking black. Turning towards Snowdon and  drawing up collar to keep dark and warm inside while whiteness blows needles slap  across the face and breath forms round cloud something to make that you can  watch while you walk. So bloody cold the people keep walking like that with  big boots and duffel coats the f i r s t days of spring, not realizing. 22 Monroe's family had moved to the winter city after Frieda was born and when  he was ready to start high school. Because of the large Jewish population, i t presented no problem for his father to re-locate the headquarters of the Chronicle there and to continue his favourite pursuit of Jewish scholarship. Monroe opened the door of the lower apartment of the duplex, placed his  books and coat in the h a l l closet, and slipped noiselessly into his seat at the  table, where his parents and sister had been waiting for him to .join them in  the Shabat dinner. Eva's head, covered with a folded, silken white napkin, rose above the l i f t - ed glasses, and she turned with her glass slightly towards Monroe. Boray pree ha-gafen. Dark red sweetness through the lips and down the throat making hot  a l l inside. Ah-mayn. She took the match and the light danced in her greyish  eyes; she passed one hand lightly over the candles and spoke the remainder of  the Kiddush. Monroe half-closed his eyes and followed the lighted match as i t approached  the candles in the silver candlestick. Elohaynu melech ha-olam. Fire up and  down silver columns resting on white, and soft hands rippling waves that rise  into the air above the f i r e something you make that you can see. Brightness  dancing in grey-green, roar of wind knocking against the window. Lee-tzeeat meetzraieem. Brightness flickering over dark forms, one standing with head  covered, others silent and wide-eyed, Be-ahavah oo-ve-ratzon. I love you. Ah-mayn. Monroe's mother resumed her seat, and Boris talked as he carved the chicken  and distributed portions, a painting of peasants working in the f i e l d on the  wall over his shoulder. "Do you know that at an affair given by the Association of American Hebrew  Congregations last week, a l l the rabbis from Conservative congregations walked 2 3 out en masse because shrimp was being served?"  No one seemed surprised. "I just got the b u l l e t i n today, and i t sounds l i k e a good story. We're put- t i n g i t i n next month's issue. ' R i f t i n Jewish Churches.'" he added abstrac- t e d l y . "The Reform movement doesn't go as far as the I s r a e l i s do," Eva s a i d , with-out looking up from her p l a t e . "I've heard that most of them are not r e l i g i o u s . " "Eva, you don't know what you're t a l k i n g about! Do you think i t ' s there l i k e i t i s i n America -- with crime and big-business and petty dissensions?" "Of course. I s r a e l i s are human. Their country has murders and fraud and  p r o s t i t u t i o n - " "Prostitutes? In Israel? Eva, you're being f o o l i s h . And besides, what do  you want the ch i l d r e n to think of t h e i r homeland?" "My God, B o r i s , why don't you grow up? This i s t h e i r homeland." Boris ate more quickly and took larger mouthfuls as he grew more excited. Monroe dreamily considered taking a l l the copies of the Chronicle i n the  house and burning them i n the Shabat candle flames. "Boris, aren't you always t e l l i n g me how much I s r a e l i s l i k e America?" " I t i s : A European peasant boy w i l l work and save, even st e a l and stow away  just to get to America. He may be f i t t e d to do no better than shine shoes on  Broadway to earn h i s bread, but h e ' l l f e e l pure, seeing a new world open to him, opportunities he never knew before. That's l i k e I s r a e l -- only there maybe  i t ' s r i c h e r i n s p i r i t than i n resources." Boris put a potato i n h i s mouth and reached for h i s glass of wine. Clinking of fork and glass. Roar of wind knocking on the windowpane, and  the l i g h t f l i c k e r s . 24 Eva went to the kitchen and Boris took Frieda on h i s knee and t r i e d to  force her to eat a carrot from a glass bowl on the table. "C'mon." His voice was pitched to a harsh, f u r t i v e baby-talk. " I t won't  k i l l you, honey. Go ahead 1" Frieda whined i n vague spurts. Monroe tapped his fingers on a th i c k book  r e s t i n g on h i s lap and cleared h i s throat. "I've been reading Shakespeare." Boris seemed annoyed as much by h i s son's quiet, laconic tone as by the remark. "Why haven't you been studying your Haftorah?" "I l i k e Shakespeare better." "Mon-roe, Mon-roel" Boris exclaimed loudly, holding the carrot on one knee  and bouncing Frieda on the other. "Why make a fuss over a l i t e r a t u r e that i s  c a l l e d r i c h because i t has a few c l a s s i c tragedies, when we have a National  Tragedy l a s t i n g for f i f t e e n hundred years, i n which the poets and actors were  also the heroes?" "So you don't l i k e Shakespeare, huh?" " L i s t e n , Monroe." Boris was gesturing with the carrot. "I don't say he's  not important. The poets are important, and the philosophers -- surel But they  don't make h i s t o r y . Listen to mel Your Haftorah i s Joshua, ri g h t ? Well, Joshua  was a true Jewish martyr -- a hero. When you study Torah, you learn about men  who didn't just think t h e i r i d e a l s , they l i v e d them!" Monroe rose to leave. Boris t r i e d to stop him, and Frieda f e l l o f f h i s knee, knocking over the bowl of carrots to the f l o o r . As Frieda sat crying on the f l o o r , surrounded by the carrots and the bowl, which fortunately did not break, Boris grabbed Monroe by the shoulder. "Monroe, don't go I S i t down for a minute. I want to t a l k to you." 25 "Okay." Monroe assented, shrugging o f f the hand and returning to h i s c h a i r .  "Just keep vour hands o f f me." He gazed s u l k i l y out of the window, while Boris t r i e d to p a c i f y Frieda.  Monroe's mother, wondering what a l l the racket was about, had entered the room  and set about picking up the c a r r o t s . "What's a l l t h i s y e l l i n g about Shakespeare and Haftorah?" she inquired  calmly. "Boris, why don't you leave the boy alone?" " L i s t e n ! " Boris began wearily. "I just want him to get serious. His Bar Mitzvah a month away, and what does he do? Reads Shakespeare." In the p a i n t i n g , peasant women become angel-faced shoeshine boys on Broadway, with Star of David engraved on t h e i r foreheads, a l l awaiting the Queen. " I t ' s a question of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y ; " Boris was c r a d l i n g Frieda and k i s s i n g  away her tears. Eva had washed the carrots and replaced the bowl on the t a b l e ,  and then returned to the kitchen. Boris was t r y i n g again to force one of the  carrots on Frieda, while he t o l d Monroe: "You can't .just do what you l i k e a l l  the time. Some things you have to do for your family, for the Jewish people. Y i s r a e l Averim zeh bazeh, Jews are responsible for each other." Boris was  i n d i c a t i n g to Frieda that i f she didn't eat the carrot he was going to eat her  up. He picked up a s a l t shaker, poured a l i t t l e s a l t over her arms, and pre- tended to eat up her arm. "Mmmm-mmmm. Dee-lishus!" He shook his head and  l i c k e d h i s l i p s . "You're a big boy, Monroe. I t ' s time you stop f o o l i n g around  and get serious." The Queen come and gone, the peasants back at work, sun sleeping i n the  tree-top, but the b a t t l e s t i l l being fought and the walls soon to come tumb- l i n g down. Ah-mayn. He jumped up and ran from the s p i r i t s , f i l l e d with the desperate j o y f u l 26 message that he had wanted to hear from them -- that maybe Emil had to die because Monroe was his own Messiah, and that now he waited only for the Queen, his Sabbath bride. 27 SOLO 1: Leila's Voodoo Whip 28 Leila's mother was staying with her in Leila's railroad f l a t across from the Marqueta: in the halls, smell of burning, and somewhere a television with the Spanish-language "What's Your Problem?", the program hated by the Puerto Ricans because i t publicizes their problems and follows up with a commerciai for roach spray, and on the walls along the stairway, inscriptions usually found only in public toilets -- some by the queers ("Young man with big cock wants to meet same"), nursery rhymsters compared to the junkies: Heroin is my shepherd. I shall always want. It maketh me to l i e down in gutters; It leadeth me beside s t i l l madness. It destroyeth my soul, etc. "The junkies, they don scare me." Leila's mother, a middle-aged Creole mulatto, ordinarily gaunt but now pregnant with her fourth child (two had died at birth) talked in between coughing f i t s about the junkies who had been using the vacant apartment upstairs to fix i n , as she led Monroe into the kitchen. She sat before the window, half-open on the fire-escape: this window and another in the front room facing the railway bridge shed a torpid gloom. As he sat across from her at the table, Monroe took in the headlines of La Prensa (HERMIT MONKS PLAN UNIT IN U.S.; - PLEASED BY ALONENESS IN CITY) and Maman's proud black eyes and perpetual suggestion of a moustache ("ton ombre de cinq heures," Monroe once kidded her), and the Southern calico dress she had worn for her other pregnan-cies. "The junkies, they take the sink out an s e l l i t so they can buy junk. So the cold water f a l l from the c e i l i n " - she nodded towards a p a i l on the floor of the front room - "an you got to use umbrella when you go to the t o i l e t . But ah know ah got some rights: Leila couldn bother, so ah take the baseball bat ah keep for the rats, ah go up there an t e l l em a l l ah c a l l the cops less they f i x the pipes. Say, you hear bout the rats big as cats ah bin seein in here lately? One come through the window outa that garbage I" She pointed to the pail on the fire escape, clutched her throat and shook her head. "Water f a l l i n from the 29 the c e i l i n an rats a l l over. An me with T.B. an a chile comin!" "If you have T.B., Maman,you better get X-rays." "You know bout that, son. You know ah don trust doctors now! Not sure bout men either." Monroe knew the reason Maman came to stay with her daughter a couple of months ago was that her husband had accepted money from the doctor for letting a friend of his watch her being examined. "Leila's not at home, Maman?" "Nope, she might go right to the club. Don't you know where she's at, Monroe? Thought you two're pretty tight, huh?" Monroe tried to smile. "Not much lately, Maman." "Aw, she jus tryin to make you jealous, that's a l l ! L e i l a , elle n'est  qu'une vraie mauvaise Kaintock!" She laughed too hard and couldn't stop coughing. Monroe went to Leila's room to wait for her there, and paused before the poster on!.her door which she had printed for her act at the Uptown, drawing on the Blue  Book advertisements for the sporting women: 1910 photograph of Mademoiselle Rita Walker, attempting an alluring pose on a leopard-skin, necklace grazing one of her breasts and jewels adorning her hair-clasp and bikin, with the modi-fied caption: Yes; this is the Famous MADEMOISELLE LEILA LEVEAU The Concert-Saloon Danseuse, who some years ago set the society folks of New Orleans wild about her "Voodoo Whip" dance. She was one of the f i r s t women in America to dance in her bare feet. Nowhere in this country w i l l you find a more popular per-sonage than Mademoiselle Leveau, who is noted as being the handsomest octoroon in America, and aside from her beauty, she has the distinction of possessing a $5000 wardrobe which she uses for her dances. To see her at night is like wit-nessing the electrical display on the Cascade, at the late St. Louis Exposition.... 30 L e i l a had been b i l l i n g h e r s e l f as L e i l a Leveau, the Voodoo Queen, since she made a v i s i t l a s t year to New Orleans, where she saw the Haunted House of Madame La l a u r i e , who had manacled her Negro slaves with chains, i r o n bands and spiked c o l l a r s , and beat them with i r o n bars and heavy whips, and gouged t h e i r f l e s h with sharp instruments, a s s i s t e d by her handsome mulatto butler ( a l l t h i s d i s -covered during a f i r e set by the cook of the house, who preferred death). L e i l a claimed descent from Marie Leveau, the most celebrated and powerful of the Voodoo queens, who wielded extraordinary supernatural powers, sold charms, l i k e " g r i s -g r i s " (a leather bag f i l l e d with powdered b r i c k , yellow ochre, and cayenne pep-per, with the occasional addition of mail parings, h a i r , and b i t s of r e p t i l e skin, which when l e f t on a doorstep i n the dark of the moon was supposed to work inc a l c u l a b l e harm to the occupants of the house) , re<vised the r i t u a l of the cu l t to include worship of the V i r g i n Mary and the Catholic s a i n t s , and presided over the secret meetings and the St. John's Day f e s t i v a l ; and, further back, from Annie Christmas, the two-hundred-and-fifty-pound mustachioed captain of a f l o a t -ing brothel catering to the flatboat men (According to legend, she offered a keg of whiskey on every cruise as a pri z e to the g i r l who could make i t with the most men i n a given time and, n a t u r a l l y , always won i t h e r s e l f ; she was strong enough to t\ow a loaded keelboat from New Orleans to Natchez on the dead run and to whip every b u l l y on the r i v e r ; and, i n the Negro legend, she was a co a l -black Negress who k i l l e d h e r s e l f for love and was placed i n a coal-black c o f f i n and taken to the r i v e r i n a coal-black hearse drawn by si x coal-black horses, and at the levee the c o f f i n was placed aboard a coal-black barge, and i n the dark of the moon Annie Christmas' twelve coal-black sons -- each seven feet t a l l , a l l of whom came int o the world at one b i r t h -- floated i t down the r i v e r to the sea.) L e i l a obsessively surrounded h e r s e l f and f o r t i f i e d her mother with the lore of the Vieux Quartier and even a b i t of the language of the Creoles. . Standing 31 in the darkened room with the blue walls, Monroe understood so much about the difference between drawing l i f e from death and blindly imitating death that he felt like crying and he f e l l down on Leila's bed and prayed to her fetishes: over her bed, the beef heart scented with spices and perfumes and wrapped in white crepe, like the love-charm that hung over the bed of Doctor Jack, the voodoo sorcerer, who could not die until i t f e l l to the floor. Monroe raised his head to sniff the scented heart, wishing i t was over his bed so that he could hurl i t to the floor (What could be more perfect than a voodoo suicide?) , and closed his eyes (No point in waiting here much longer: Leila must be at the club by now, perhaps into her Voodoo Whip already, after the intro by Benny, the toothless spade M.C. who s t i l l lives entirely'in that photograph taken of him years ago arm-in-arm with Cab Calloway: "Let me jus warn the gennelmen gainst keepin their hands in their pockets for our nex attraction: gennelmen --no shakin hands with the unemployed!..." Leila comes on torchlit with blue tights and a satin gown embroidered with diamonds and swans' down and a plume like the quadroons wore, bells on her ankles like those of Bras CoupS, master of the Bamboula Dance in Congo Square and Brigand of the Swamp, and a Madras kerchief to form the tignon head-dress of the female slaves at Congo Square. The band is comprised of teen-agers playing cigar-box fiddle, harmonica, bull-fiddle, kettle, cow-bell, pebble-filled gourd, and assorted home-made whistles and horns, some with their horns in their hats, while standing on their heads, howling and screaming "hi-de-hi" and "ho-de-ho" -- an obvious take-off on the original, notoriously nauseating Spasm Band, In-ventors of Jass. Kidney-Beans and Lamb-Chops, two Negro underworld characters and itinerant dancers, rush onto the stage and attempt to butt each other into insensibility (when examined by doctors, their skulls were found to be over an inch thick), as in the butting matches at the old Buffalo B i l l House. At the same time, Leila does a concert-saloon clodoche (similar to a can-can), while 32 she i s f l a g e l l a t e d by Joe the Whipper, the professional f l a g e l l a n t who served the needs of the sidewalk carpet ten-cent strumpets with h i s perennial black bag of switches, whips, and t h i n , f l e x i b l e metal rods. The music stops as L e i l a -- now i n her guise of Annie Christmas -- turns and grabs the whip away from Joe and drives the three men o f f the stage, screaming the war-cries of the fl a t - b o a t b u l l i e s : "I'm a c h i l d of the snapping t u r t l e ! I'm a roaring r i p -snorter and chock-full of f i g h t ! I can wrastle a buffalo and chaw the ear o f f a g r i z z l y ! " She moves to the front of the stage and deposits i n her head-dress the red turkey-feather of the boat-crew champion and Annie Christmas's necklace, with one bead for every nose or ear chawed o f f and two for every eye gouged out ( t h i r t y feet long, and i t could have been longer, but Annie counted only white men). L e i l a stamps up and down, a t i n cup f i l l e d to the brim with whiskey i n each hand, singing the t r a d i t i o n a l challenge: I'm looking for the b u l l y , The b u l l y of the town; I'm looking for the b u l l y , But the b u l l y can't be found; I'm looking for the b u l l y of the town. And when I walk t h i s levee round, I'm looking for the b u l l y of the town. A l l the torches are extinguished except one, as L e i l a p u l l s o f f the head-dress, l e t t i n g her h a i r f a l l into r o l l s and knots forming pockets containing the magical paraphenalia of the Voodoo Queen -- pebbles, s h e l l s , d r i e d l i z a r d s and frogs, b i r d s k u l l s , b o ttles of snake o i l , and the hoot owl's head with which Doctor Bauregard had unsuccessfully t r i e d to charm the policeman whorarrested him. She takes up the beef bones and beats faster and louder, while leaping and chant-ing "Dansez Bamboula! Badouml Badoum!" She dons the magic shawl sent to Marie Leveau by the Emperor of China i n 1830 and dances with the Voodoo Queen's l i f e -size d o l l carved out of a single tree trunk, painted i n b r i l l i a n d colours and 3 3 bedecked i n beads and gaudy ribbons. The drummer r o l l s up h i s snare, and Reverend Mr. Turner, chaplain of the Louisiana L e g i s l a t u r e i n 1870, i s wheeled onto the stage, l y i n g on a p l a i n board t a b l e , i l l with the symptoms of d e l i r i u m tremens, although he i s a t e e t o t a l e r ; he seeks the a i d of Malvina Latour, suc-cessor to Marie Leaveau, to overcome the e f f e c t s of the Voodoo charm which he believes has possessed him with an e v i l s p i r i t . L e i l a manipulates h i s hands and rubs h i s chest with a pungent o i l , while chanting a Voodoo exorcism, then steps back, whereupon the Reverend Mr. Turner retches up a black mouse, which leaps to the f l o o r and scampers into the audience i n search of a knothole. The preacher stands up cured, the band plays a fanfare, and L e i l a produces a p i s t o l from underneath the swans' down: i t i s a weapon known to the New Orleans p o l i c e of the 1880's as "the Mafia gun" -- a shotgun with the barrels sawed o f f to about eighteen inches, and the stock sawed through near the t r i g g e r , hollowed out and f i t t e d with hinges, so the e n t i r e gun can be folded up l i k e a jack k n i f e . As the band plays the chaser, "Swamp-Fire", she goes o f f f i r i n g blanks into the audience (Often, one man w i l l f a l l down repeatedly, pretending to be h i t . ) Monroe smelled the beef heart again, and out of the perfume and the spices he t r i e d to m a t e r i a l i z e L e i l a ' s amazing offstage gentleness, but instead saw her s t i l l at the club the time a respectable-looking Negro s i t t i n g at the front table turned to h i s wife during L e i l a ' s dance with the voodoo d o l l and s a i d , "You know, t h i s act doesn't have enough oomphal", whereupon L e i l a stopped dancing, waved the d o l l i n front of them and y e l l e d "oom-PHAl" On the wall beside the bed, a copy of General Butler's infamous Woman Order (against the l a d i e s of New Orleans who p e r s i s t e d i n wearing Confederate colours, singing Southern songs and contemptuously withdrawing themselves i n the presence of the occupying Federal troops) "that hereafter when any female s h a l l , by word, gesture, or movement, i n s u l t or show contempt for any o f f i c e r or s o l d i e r of the 34 United States, she s h a l l be regarded and held l i a b l e to be treated as a woman of the town p l y i n g her vocation." — to which the incensed "women of the town" responded by pasting p o r t r a i t s of General Butler on the insides of t h e i r t i n k l e -pots. On the wall opposite, a magenta-coloured h a n d b i l l for a "grand national r a t - k i l l i n g match" held on March 10, 1879: Harry Jennings, of New York, has matched a c e r t a i n New York dog, whose f i g h t i n g weight i s twenty-three pounds, to k i l l twelve full-grown rats per minute, for f i v e consecutive minutes, being one of the greatest feats a dog can accomplish --six t y f u l l - s i z e d rats i n f i v e minutes.... Mr. Salvador Habar w i l l also exhibit h i s wild Mexican boar, and i s prepared to p i t him against any dog produced. Harry Jennings w i l l , on t h i s occasion, exhibit twelve varigated r a t s . And turn-of-the-century personal items about the hust l e r s from the "Society" column of the Mascot: "Several amateurs have been enjoying quite a good time of l a t e i n the residence at the rear of a grocery store on Deligny S t r e e t . . . . I t i s safe to say that Mrs. Theurer can brag of more innocent young g i r l s having been ruined i n her house than there were i n any other s i x houses i n the c i t y . . . e tc." And even the famous S t o r y v i l l e ordinance No. 1084 "concerning Lewd and Abandoned Women":-"That i t s h a l l not be lawful for any g i r l notoriously abandoned to lewdness to occupy, in h a b i t , l i v e or sleep i n any one-story b u i l d i n g situated within the following l i m i t s , v i z . . . . " Fragrence of L e i l a f i l l e d Monroe. When L e i l a gave h e r s e l f to him, she sang Chantez-Les-Bas i n a whisper, and flowered beneath him with an a i r y p u l s a t i o n . But he knew that i t was her control as much as her gentleness. In making her movements obedient to h i s rather than devouring him, there was the same d e l i b e r -ation with which she appropriated the comic spectres of S t o r y v i l l e to protect her and her mother from the death assault of E l Barrio. What was not control i n 35 everything around him t o n i g h t , except death? Had Emil discovered i n L e i l a some core of tenderness that he had not? What was tenderness? Not c o n t r o l , not death. A k i n d of freedom. Perhaps he had never r e a l l y been f r e e , but he had come clos e t o n i g h t . And a few times before once while dancing i n h i s own r e s u s i t a t e d mardi gras, a C a r n i v a l d'Hiver to c e l e b r a t e w i nter's death-swoon .... Spring was when t i n y , semi-hardened i s l a n d s of snow coloured schmutzig grey  s l i t h e r e d down the slopes of Mont Royal and melted i n a f l o o d of h o l y water  from St. Joseph's to b r i n g out the Blooms and the Baums of Snowdon. The r e t u r n  of the ducks and s a i l b o a t s to Beaver Lake and the s i g h t of s t r e e t s and s i d e - walks appearing clean merely from the f a c t of t h e i r being bare and dry c o n t r i - buted to a s h i v e r i n g from warmth between the l e g s , a low hum heard i n the s t r e e t s , among the trees and i n the classroom, l i k e an a i r p l a n e ' s drone or a storm wind  outside the window at n i g h t , s t e a l i n g the mind away from a S o f t b a l l game, the  new cars and Canadian H i s t o r y . Sunlight plays over the White S i l v e r Sand h a i r and s k i n of Oh please stay  by me Diana. And Love Me Tender love me true never l e t me go f o r my d a r l i n g I  love you and I always w i l l . How to ask her — s i t t i n g there so s t r a i g h t and  shi n i n g and a shikseh — to go to the dance Saturday and One o'clock two o'clock  three o'clock rock we're gonna rock around the c l o c k t o n i g h t . Class breaking  up, b e t t e r to phone t o n i g h t . She passes through the door w i t h the crowd, too  l a t e now. Out i n t o the hallway. Faces. "Hey, Monroe, l i s t e n to t h i s one: Jack .jumped over the c a n d e l s t i c k . . . .  'Great B a l l s of F i r e ' 1 " "Scuse me, Don. Gotta go." Laughing. "Okay, Monroe. Hey, j u s t don't f o r g e t : ' I t Only Hurts For a L i t t l e While'..." 36 More laughing.  "Sure." Funny? When Monroe entered the house, his father was in the h a l l , speaking over  the phone to his editorial assistant about the Chronicle feature on Rabbi Roth- stein and Jewish Martyrdom Through The Ages, which, due to more pressing con- cerns, had s t i l l not been completed after so many years. Boris wore a bathrobe that was torn in several places, and out of the cuffs which were s t i f f from  being dipped accidentally in soup and coffee, protruded fingers that toyed with  an angry shaving sore on his chin, as his blue eyes fixed themselves on some point beyond the living-room window. "I don't know, Myer. Of course, a photograph of a rare and recently- discovered Rubens would dress up the section on Daniel nicely, but i f the lions  are as re a l i s t i c and ferocious as that, then perhaps i t might be too extrava- gant. A l i t t l e pushy, you know? Espcially i f theRabbi Rothstein pic is on  the same page." Monroe delayed hanging up his jacket, as he stood listening to his father  and turning the pages in one of his mother's poetry books l e f t open on the h a l l  bookcase. His eyes paused momentarily at the line, "The one place in our body  where we are a l l children." Boris did not seem to notice his son's entrance.  His hand moved from.the shaving sore to a torn pocket of the robe. "Mm-hmm...m-m-m...That's right, Myer. Forget about things like the painting  and just get the facts straight. Things like dates of birth and death. And not  just the year --make sure you get the month too; the month is important." Monroe saw his father's hand fumbling in the pocket of the robe. "M-m-m...Hah[ Horoscopes. That's funny, Myer. But li s t e n , Myer, I'm ser- ious. You stick to the facts and leave the poetry to me." 37 Boris turned and grew conscious of the appearance made by his hands moving  around the torn pocket, as his eyes met the curiosity in Monroe's and took in  the lips parted and bent in vague repulsion. His face darkened, he withdrew  the hand from his pocket and turned back to the living-room with a nervous  motion. His voice was hurried and thin. "Uh...listen, Myer. I'm going to leave you now, and I ' l l see you at the  office tomorrow. And remember what I told you about the facts. Okay?...Fine.  Goodbye, Myer." Boris stared at a point somewhere behind Monroe's head and spoke in a  strangely soft, fla t tone: "Hang up your jacket and go eat your supper, son." Monroe obeyed, thinking that this was the f i r s t time his father had called  him "son". Boris looked down at the wrinkled photograph of Rabbi Rothstein lying before  him on the telephone table. He picked i t up, walked slowly to the fireplace in  the living-room and stopped there, turning over the photograph in his hands. Monroe's date wore a thin, white dress and pink lip s t i c k softer than any his  mother ever used. As they entered the school building, she positioned his arm  and grasped i t firmly. They stood for a moment at the entrance to the gymnas- ium, taking in the balloons and streamers, the musbians dressed in long red  sashes and oversized turques because of the Carnival d'Hiver theme of the dance, and the huge Bon Homme Carnival leaping around the dance floor and laughing  like a Santa Claus with a lighted firecracker up his ass. A White Sport Coat And a Pink Carnation — I'm a l l dressed up for the dance. Tan shoes and pink shoelaces, a polka-dot vest, and man oh man - We're gonna  rock rock rock t i l l broad day-light - and a big Panama with a purple hat-band. "Come, Monroe, let's dance." The band was playing a slow rock. The floor was dark except for spotlights 38 playing over the dancers. She led him to the center of the floor and pulled  his arms to her shoulder and waist. "Don't you know how to dance, Monroe? It's okay, I ' l l show you. You're  so shy!" Oh please stay by me. whiteness and warmth and two hearts beating and  hair with the scent of ocean breeze. Honeycomb. Forehead and nose curving  like the motion of a waterfall. Love me tender love me sweet t i l l the end of  time You have made my l i f e complete let me make you mine. Warmth spreading a l l  over inside with a low rumble rising and trembling ffom hot strength. Great  Balls of Fire. Pulling closer and closer. Oh, please -The one place - "Please not so close" - in our body - "Please don't" -where - "No-o-o" - we a l l - "0-o-oh" - are - "Get away from me" - children -"Please". She was whimpering and her flesh had turned cold and trembling. Couples  around them stopped dancing to stare, and Bon Homme too stood silent, watching.  Monroe closed his eyes tightly. After the weekend, Monroe's father brought home a trumpet for him. Eva had  suggested the present, because she noticed that lately her son had grown sullen;  although she did not say so, she hoped that he would grow to love the instru- ment and that music would remain with him. Boris followed up the idea enthusi- astically, because he thought that interest in a musical instrument might en- courage Monroe in his studies of the Haftorah portion he was preparing to chant  at his Bar-Mitzvah. "After a l l , " he explained to Eva and Monroe, as he made the presentation,  "didn't Benny Goodman receive his f i r s t clarinet in a synagogue?" .Monroe held the instrument up to the light from the living-room window, and  watched the gleam playing up and down the silver surface. He pushed the keys  and blew lightly into the mouthpiece. Don't Be Cruel to a heart that's true. 39 In the roar of wind outside the living-room window, perhaps a l l the sounds and  songs of the world. It Only Hurts For A L i t t l e While. "Why don't you love me?" Monroe cried to the beef heart. Didn't Leila real-ize that a l l this was a grotesque parody on the h e l l around her that she was trying to escape? The Boricuas had their own voodoo, brujerfa, and they were the victims and the aggressors in continual matches of r a t - k i l l i n g and butting and bullying and Lewd and Abandoned fucking, and they were as desperate as the New Orleans dissipes she invoked, like the Chevalier, who abhorred the ideals of equality which had developed among the Creoles around 1800 and appeared in public dressed always in powdered wig and queue, knee breeches, s i l k stockings, frizzled cuffs and shirt-front and silver buckles on his slippers and accom-panied always by his dog and monkey, or Colonel Charles Starr, who used to hire Negroes to meet his steamboat at various landings and hail him as "Massa Kunnel" to impress his gambling partners, and who died penniless after pawning his overcoat for the best five-dollar dinner obtainable at his favourite restaur-ant, which he deliberately turned upside down on the table. Couldn't she see that their grimy expiations belonged to a Storyville that was just as much El Barrio? A Smoky Row of the battling bawds (Fightin' Mary, Kidney-Foot Jenny, One-Eyed Sal, and Gallus Lu) who sat in the doorways of their dives in their loose, dirty Mother Hubbards and spat tobacco juice in men's eyes and knocked them down and rolled them that was just as much 110th Street? And a barrel-house of racked barrels f i l l e d with phony home-made Irish whiskey, brandy and port, and usually knockout drops (to make sure where a l l the customer's money went) that was just as much the Uptown and the Salle Sappho? Spanish Harlem, Montreal, the world were the Blue Book's dead promises of " j o l l y " g i r l s , and 40 at the same time living reminders of death, like "the narrow house", the brick ovens above ground where because of the moisture burials were made of a l l bodies in New Orleans except those of Jews (The land was promised to them, remem-ber?) . The altes had spoken to Monroe from Emil's river grave the words of the grave-tender Leila had met in New Orleans, "These folks who come round to check n see their relations' tombs are locked, double-locked, triple-locked, with steel doors — they wouldn have to do that i f they'd treated em proper in l i f e . " Yet, she didn't realize: she would continue to draw l i f e from death until she saw i t as death, and she would keep the steel doors on her Storyville locked un-t i l she found out that they don't exist for ghosts. But Monroe would never be the one to t e l l her: he envied her too much. He wondered i f there was a way left for him now to discover some love-charm in this brutal nightmare of a voodoo spell that had possessed him tonight, and he thought of his m u s i c — a new thing, sort of a jazz synthesis of his mother's Yiddish songs and the Baroque pieces he had studied, a way of playing himself instead of running the tired chord changes, which was the way of the bop imitat-ors like the other musicians at the club who were always putting down his play-ing.... On the remaining wall, a sheet music cover picturing "The Darktown Banjo Class" with the t i t l e "Off the Key" and the "Massa" saying "If yous can't play de music, jess l e f f de banjo go!" And beside i t , an article from the New Orleans Picayune, June 17, 1917, on "JASS AND JASSISM": Why is the jass music, and therefore, the jass band? As well ask why is the dime novel or the grease-dipping doughnut? A l l are manifestations of a low streak in man's tastes that has not yet come out in civilization's wash. Indeed, one might go farther, and say that jass music is the indecent story syncopated and counter-pointed. Like the improper anecdote, also'.:.in i t s youth, i t was listened to blushingly behind closed doors and drawn curtains, but like a l l vice, i t grew bolder until i t dared decent sur-roundings and there was tolerated because of i t s oddity... 4 1 In the matter of jass, New Orleans is particularly-interested, since i t has been widely suggested that this particular form of musical vice had i t s birth in this city -- that i t came, in fact, from doubtful surroundings in our slums. We do not recognize the honor of parethood, but with such a story in circulation, i t behooves us to be last to accept the atrocity in polite society, and where i t has crept in we should make i t a point of civic honor to suppress i t . Its musical value is n i l , and i t s possibilities of harm are great. He laughed and thought of his father. Monroe had spent so much agony over the realization that he could never say quite enough with his axe, that after he had sapped himself and sunk into himself breathless, there was s t i l l so much to say: yet he would never believe i t was just a stupid horn, i t would always be important to him, as long as his music might make Leila understand about Emil and even begin to show his father where things were at. After a l l , hadn't music always been his way of breaking down the steel doors of the "narrow house"? Out into Montreal's winter night, the comfort of downtown lights that shine  on everyone the same, and-"La Bohemel" -exhaled gently in a puff of Gitane between sips of panachet by Rene the drummer at the Grand National twist parlor on the Main; also, from  Louis the Lush, bass-player, formerly of Perez Prado, etc.: "Oui, mon vieux! La Bohemel Bon pour le jazz." - beamed breathless between quick trips to the  vodka tap behind the bar, with spaces in the middle of words, while he downs  his f i f t h before the boss comes back and catches him copping the juice. "Ah, ouiI At that place, good music -- for to listen 1 Not like here, Taber-nacle' Bonsoir, mon vieus." Murmured in parting, as le patron returns, points to his  watch, barks, "Louis! Musiquei Okay?" Heard also from Sylvestre, the Universite de Montreal student next door ("C'est las meillure pour les jeunes f i l l e s ! Mmm-ahl"). 42 La Boheme, La Boh&me, La Bohemel — spoken so often and always with the  same serenity, that the name begins to assume the parfurns of Parisian glaces and the aroma that perpetually slips underneath the doors of Chinatown restau-rants. Close to eleven, when things should start happening, below St. Catherine  St. , away from the bo'xtes and cabarets a la mode, alomg a business street assez tranquille, and then a long way down an allay that's easy to miss and tout a coup the flashing red neon sign. Across from the entrance, someone pissing in the shadow of a car, and the  trickle spreads underneath the car into a pool that mirrors the neon. Farther  along the wall, hugging a doorway opposite the entrance, a kid with flaxen  hair who giggles and slaps his knee and gasps, "Haut Homme I Haut Homme I Oh-h-h-hl," and points to a t a l l , dark figure who rocks in and out of the door- way with arms and fingers extended elec t r i c a l l y above his head. Inside, a young Mulatto sits on a checking-room counter and shakes his head  violently over a French-Canadian kid, flushed and gesturing wildly, shouting  through cigarette smoke and R & B organ from the juke box. From the end of the  bar, located just beyond the checking-room, the black body of Buttercup, the  proprietress, balloons up between two middle-aged businessmen. As Monroe takes a chair at a corner table away from bright lights that might  reveal his age, the zombie Haut Homme staggers i n , his arms s t i l l upraised, his  expression frozen in a sickly grin. Buttercup waddles over to meet him before  he can get any further into the club, and after some discussion, at cross- purposes , Haut Homme is helped out to the street, where he is l e f t to lurch  about as before. There are others like him inside, sidling along the walls and  pretending to search for the washroom. 4 3 The juke box is turned off and lights are lowered for the featured group —  a ten-piece band, with rhythm section, trumpets, trombones, saxophones. Monroe  has boldly ordered a beer, but i t stands in front of him untouched, as he waits  for the opening — Jazz cadences in brassy clarity crystallize smoke rings, cause diamond  brooches to shiver and glasses to rattle on table tops, strain against the walls, forming a tight circle of sound bulging at the seams. When the horns are loud-est, i t seems that a l l the people's voices shouting at once shake the foundations  of the building. During the applause, the musicians bow their heads, finger  their instruments over their chests. Monroe picks up the glass of beer: yellow bitterness through the lips and  down the throat making cold a l l inside, and in the glass, the dark forms of  Jewish martyrs standing perpetually on the brink who once knew the power of  brass instruments and shouting to create a tumble. And now, here -- in answer  to the hunger, the straining here is the great happening of this world. And  a l l the rest -- Haftorah, Bar-Mitzvah, Yisrael -- no longer possible.... Just so quickly had he decided against a Bar-Mitzvah, sorry only that he may have disappointed Cantor Grossman, his tutor,in his Haftorah portion,.a gnomic orthodox Jew who knew about people and explained to Monroe the sight of the opening of the heavens on Shavuoth night to the deserving and so must have had l i t t l e trouble really in comprehending Monroe's acceptance of a new world. Monroe walked over to Leila's desk and picked up her copy of the Blue Book, noted the la t t i c e - l i k e f l o r a l design on the cover and leafed through i t , im-pressed more than usual by i t s authoritarian tone ("Anyone who knows to-day from yesterday w i l l say that the Blue Book is the right book for the right people.:'*) It occurred to him that no matter how often the walls came tumbling 44 down, they would always reappear somewhere, but for him either to accept or to break down the steel doors of Leila's Storyville, or Emil's, or his father's, was only misplaced martyrdom as long as his own remained to be dealt with. Also on the desk, some music manuscript sheets. Monroe picked them up. It was the beginning of a suite Emil had been working on, entitled La_ Isla  Encatada. Monroe hummed through i t with growing excite-ment , as he realized that a l l of El Barrio was there -- the ironic-sweet strains of the Spanish ancestors, followers of Ponce de Leon, seekers after gold and youth and captors of neither; the Boricuas' customary g r i e f - f i l l e d ataques of crying, screaming, shaking, f a l l i n g on the floor with arms rigidly extended and hands clenched; the church services that began "high" with the funereal "Come, 0 Come Emmanuel", chanted by the all-Negro female choir, and finished always with "This is the time for Joy and Mirth, My Lord says he's comin' by 'n by..."; the kids gyrating over the street and at the study club Twistorama, where the Freedom Singers carry signs saying STRENGTH^ .. THROUGH STUDY and KNOWLEDGE IS POWER; and a l l the carny gansters like The Batman, who used to rob tenements back in the 40's, dressed in a large black cloak and two small garden rakes with clawlike prongs sticking out the sides. And there were even somelof the charts from Leila's act - Of course 1 This is why Emil had been vi s i t i n g her at the club, this is why Emil had come to New York: He was suck-ing every drop of the groove juice of East Harlem and the Uptown to pour into his romantic fucking social epic about thcese successors to the Jews in the role of the oppressed, using El Barrio, the soured Happy Valley - Isla Encan-tada -- what was actually here, a l l around I Monroe had to s i t down to catch his breath. It was clear now: this would be his way -- he would finish Emil's composition, finding place in the Boricua 45 slum for the anguished endurance of the altes and Haut Homme and the hollow jo l i t y of the Salle Sappho and the Storyville pros and weirdos. And so offer some answer to the questioning faces floating about Emil's body. He could see from Emil's notes that two movements remained to be written -"La Marqueta" and "Saints' Feast". Monroe checked his watch and found that he s t i l l had some time before his gig. He ran out to the Marqueta, taking Emil' music and kissing Maman on his way and wishing her luck in her crusade against the rats. 46 SOLO 2: Marqueta of the Mind 47 "Suppose vun hass a long vacation. Lots of time and lots of money and noth-ing to do but travel around the vorld, or even around the country, or even just the city -- and enjoy vhatever presents i t s e l f . Then the vorld becomes a Mar-queta of the mind." So had Emil declaimed before the cityscape walking with Monroe down Park Avenue past the invisible Check-Point Charlie that everyone senses at 96th Street, presuming to guide Monroe though he himself had arrived in the city not much be-fore. Now in sight of the rows of stalls under the railway arch, Monroe couldn't suppress a consciousness of Emil's s p i r i t mocking the deliberation of his pres-ent quest at the Marqueta. The lights were off and the Marqueta was o f f i c i a l l y closed until the early morning, but a freakish few purveyors of night mysteries remained straggled about the entrance. In the perennial shadow of :fche el tracks, Transistor Alley: maybe a hundred or more men along the wall asleep or leaning over and upwards towards their vari-ous connections (mariachis, Beatles, newscasters, preachers) with the heat-shrouded heavens. Monroe walked down the row, eyes averted from the sprawled and hunched forms, deliberately listening.-"FOLKS, EVERY YEAR OVER 300 NEW YORKERS EITHER JUMP OR FALL TO THEIR DEATHS, SO YOU BETTER BELIEVE RAY CHARLES WHEN HE SINGS (MUSIC) 'PLEASE HELP ME I'M FALL-IN! ' ANDANTE ANDIAMO, REPUBLICAN CAN-DIDATE FOR NEW YORK CITY COUNCILLOR REPRESENTING THE EAST HARLEM DISTRICT, TONIGHT SPOKE AT A CITIZENS' MEETING IN WHICH HE DECLINED HIS SUPPORT FOR THE ANTI-BIAS HOUSING BILL, RECOMMENDING INSTEAD 'VOLUNTARY INTEGRATION' PROMOTED BY A 'TENANTS' COUNCIL', WHICH HE 48 TERMED 'A MORE AMIABLE COURSE'. IN THE RECORDING OF HIS SPEECH MADE FOR AIRING ON OUR NEWS BROADCAST, HE CONTINUED: *DO YOU WANT TO BE SHOT? DO YOU WANT TO BE ROBBED? IF YOU DON'T, YOU"D BETTER SUPPORT THE TENANTS' COUNCIL -- BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO GET RID OF CRIME AROUND HERE. OTHERWISE, THERE'S NO TELLING WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. THE PARTY OF MY OPPONENT, WHICH IS INFILTRATED WITH AGITATORS, PINKOS, NATIONALISTS AND NON-RESIDENTS, HAS CHARGED ME WITH BEING UNFAIR TO PUERTO RICANS. LET ME REMIND YOU THAT I COME FROM A MINORITY GROUP TOO : MY FATHER CAME FROM ITALY -- STEERAGE. MOST OF YOU BORICUAS, IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, CAME TO NEW YORK FROM SAN JUAN BY THE NIGHT FLIGHT -- AIRPLANE -- AM I RIGHT?'... AND NOW, FROM THE EAST HARLEM PENTE-COSTAL CHURCH, REVEREND ERNEST GOODFELLOW, EX-MAGICIAN FAMOUS FOR HIS MIDNIGHT MASS LIVE NATIVITY PERFORMANCE AND A RECENT SERMON TO A PRE-DOMINANTLY TEENAGED AUDIENCE ON 'JESUS AND HIS GANG', TONIGHT PRESENTS HIS FOURTH-OF-JULY PAGENT, 'BIRTH OF A NATION'. REV. GOODFELLOW-'FRIENDS, FREEDOM IS EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS! YOUR BUSINESS! MY BUSINESS! THE CHURCH'S BUSINESS! AND THE POWER OF THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCH IS THE STRONGEST DEFENSE OF FREEDOM AGAINST COMMUNISM. LOOK AT CHINA. THE FAITHS THERE WERE WEAK, AND THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES HAD NOT ENOUGH POWER. REMEMBER WHAT ECCLESIASTES SAID: 'WOE UNTO HIM THAT IS ALONE WHEN HE FALLETH.'...." (An elderly Methodist slaps his knee and chortles, "He sounds like he's on the telephone with God Almighty, doesn't he?") Monroe started back along Tran-sistor Alley, this time looking f u l l at the stick-limbed, pallid-faced old men ironically turned on by their sound-boxes, yet -- and yes he knew that he had felt exactly the same a thousand times playing his horn -- striving for someth 49 that was not there. And he knew that each one of them, i f given the chance to return to that other Isla Encatada, would refuse, since he would have to enter-tain his whole village as a typical New York millionaire, complete with watch chain. At the entrance again, Monroe passed up TIME JUSTICE LOVE MONEY ART LABOUR FRIENDSHIP - WHAT LIES IN YOUR FUTURE? - MADAME DORA ADVISES (Madame Dora at-tempts to pull him over to the booths where beautiful gypsy g i r l s motion towards their couches from behind curtains adorned with half-moons, stars, constella-tions and crucifixes) and paused to hear the spiel of Luis, the octogenarian parrot from South America, ostensibly trained to rattle off anybody's sales pitch in return for a swig of brandy, actually the front for Ahmed Abdullah, a swarthy Arab ventriloquist and dope merchant who sits cross-legged surrounded by his wares in his nearby tent. Luis was currently pushing Chinese tea for the LOONG FOK KEE TEA CORPORATION: "OUR PRODUCTION IS MADE FROM THE WORLD-FAMOUS TEA PRODUCT OF FORMOSA. IT IS A REAL QUENCHER TO THIRSTS, A STIMULUS TO APPETITES AND KEEPING ONE REFRESHING. OUR TEA IS ALWAYS ON TOP OF THE SELLING-LIST OF THE TEA TRADE OF OUR COUNTRY, AND HAS WON THE WORLD-WIDE REPUTATION. OUR 'DRAGON AND BAT' AND 'DOUBLE LEAF' BRANDED TEA ARE OF THEIR HIGHEST QUALITIES WHICH ARE CAREFULLY SELECTED BY OUR EXPERTS AND PACKED BY SKILLED HANDS FOR LOCAL AND WORLD MARKET. TRUST YOURSELF TO A NEW EXPERIENCE IN DRINKING OUR BRANDED TEA. IT GIVES YOU A HEALTHY, WHOLE-SOME, FRANGRENT DRINK AND WE GUARANTEE WITH ASSURED SATISFACTION." Inside the tent, Ahmed Abdullah chuckles and runs greasy green grains of hasheesh through his fingers. He held the keys to the kingdom in his gold-encrusted turban, and i t was within his imagination to make of his kingdom a vast experimental farm for the raising of Grade A government-inspected acid-50 high chickens I Knowing world bank trends, stock fluctuations, etc., Ahmed was convinced that acid-high chickens would fetch a pretty price on the world mar-ket, recent wage fixingsto the contrary. (How was he to know — poor slob of a foreigner -- that his decision was to provoke the Tr i a l of the Century?). Monroe ran from the Marqueta as he had run from the river, fearing what Emil had once warned him -- that music like satori cannot be sought, for when we listen outside of ourselves we hear only ourselves and when we listen down into ourselves, there i s only the silence. There was a time when he had desired this silence: during the summer at Camp Hatikvoh, where he was music councillor and piano accompanist for the brats doing My_ Fair Lady (although he always had to cover for them by playing melody instead of accompaniment and by altering tempos and keys at every rehearsal) and where he practised every morning on a dusty upright absent i t s top, bench, and even a few keys in the upper octaves in the old recreation hall that awoke with a yawn and a stretch lasting as long as the dew on the bushes beside the balcony; there he competed with the music of sun-sprinkled, pock-marked oaken benches like the ones in the small, rundown syna-gogue where he might have had his Bar-Mitzvah and tattered posters on the wall announcing in extravagent colours a penny f a i r , a twist contest and a concert featuring camp folksingers, and during the vibrations of a particularly dirge-like chord of Chopin's Prelude No. 20 in C minor (for which he was working out jazz variations), he strained for an impossible silence at the core that would t e l l the sad story of the old men outside the walls and around the p i t , and that would expiate something important as yet le f t undone. But months later, that autumn afternoon of the f i r s t lesson with Rob at the music school in New York, city sound f i l l e d him without his wishing one way or the other -- the feeling this time again a kind of freedom, the freedom of con-:f:esion to Rob and absolution by the birds.... 51 Outside the Sloane House of the "Y", mist rising-on the Hudson like the  mist on the lake at camp, and sharp air and thoughts of football and roar of  t r a f f i c on the parkway and smell of freshly-baked bread from the German bakery  down the block. He pulled his coat collar over his ears and shifted from one  foot to the other, but allowed waves of cold to ripple over him and giggled,  because he was on his way to groove with Rob, Mr. Out-of-Sight, the truly boss  horn-man, the master. "Where do I get the crosstown bus?" (Doo-dah...Doo-dah) Sitting slumped into  a seat at the back and peering through sunglasses at the three-dimensional face  puffing real smoke over Times Square and shuddering now more from the rumble  and roar of the bus than from the cold. When he closed his eyes tightly, the  people around him, the walls and ceiling of the bus a l l f e l l away and there re- mained the bus as a bed of springs and steel chassis, bouncing along ®"n four  monstrous wheels through ribbons of smoke from the subway outlets. The bus moved past the club where Monroe had heard Rob play the night before  and in between sets had got from him the promise of a lesson today; i t yielded briefly to a surge of Fifth Avenue pedestrians and rumbled across the inter- section, past the library, past the sea of yellow taxicabs, on to Grand Central, Lexington Avenue, more taxicabs, more pedestrians -- a l l framed by beetling can- yons of concrete, steel and glass, and seldom seeing the face of the sun. At Second Avenue, a crowd at the base of a whitewashed bank building, squint-ing skyward with r e l i s h , respectfully withdrawn from a large space on the side- walk. A middle-aged man with walrus moustache and shabby clothes ventures into  the periphery of the space and his voice crackles above the screech of approach-ing sirens, as he speaks animatedly of Jehovah's Kingdom. Monroe doesn't  bother to search the sun-drenched rooftops for the quaking desperado. Off the bus and a bouncing walk downtown-East Side (Scooby-da-be-doodah ba-52 de-doodly-bop-be-da. Yeahl) In the duck-pond of the park i t was yes his own  very actual groovy-as-a-movie face ah slowly draw back your thick lips to re- veal brightness like that of the tiepin haughtily embedded in the funereal  cloth of your only tie the surfaces catch the sun's gleam and send i t shimmer- ing through the ripples created by a nearby duck and off with the dark glasses  to delight in the further two dancing pinpoints of light produced by the reflec-tion of your eyes fiercely indissoluble before the duck's motion You found  yrself a soul brother today sweety and he's gonna show ya how t blow yr ass off. A familiar figure leaning over the edge of the pond at the other end. A  breeze from the trees over his head ruffled the man's flowing white hair and  oversized pant legs, as he extended a f i s t f u l of crumbs to an assemblage of  swans and ducks. Monroe waited until he had reached his side before speaking: "Hey, Whiteyl What's happening, man?" Whitey turned from the birds with a start. It was only slowly that the deep  wrinkles of his forehead relaxed in timid acceptance of a friend's greeting and  the tired eyes mirrored the young man's ebullience with a slight glow. At the  height of the swing era, everyone had known Whitey, tenor saxophonist with  Fletcher, Benny, a l l the great bands. But now cats like Rob would have to intro- duce him in clubs - "Folks, there's a swingin veteran in the house I'd like for youcall to meet. Let's have a big hand...! " "Hi-yal Ain't i t a bitch of a day? Guess I'm jus a fair-weather friend.  On days like today, I gotta come see my Middies." He pointed to a couple of  imminently craning snowy forms and smiled. "Look how much class they got, eh?" Whitey looked as i f he wasn't eating enough. Monroe knew that he hadn't  worked for a h e l l of a long time, that he had actually stopped looking for gigs. "Whitey, what the h e l l are you doing here feeding the motherflippin ducks?" 53 "Lookit, man." He smiled and pointed again, "Jest look how much class  they got." Whitey's a sweet old cat, but he's such a schmuck y can't even feel sorry  for him. He's s t i l l got his born, he got his l i p and a bit o that old wind.  But instead of hustlin for gigs, he's gotta s i t out here and starve with the  ducks. "How bout joining me, kid?" Whitey was on his knees before the edge of the  pond, and one super-daring swan was eating out of his hand.  "Sorry, Whitey, I got better things to do. Take care." Whitey turned reluctantly from his charge, and the sad strange eyes followed  the youth as he started towards the street. Monroe was bobbing his head slight- ly and swinging his horn with peculiar vehemence. Can't nobody bullshit you today sweety gonna blow with Rob today and maybe  he'l l set you up turn you on to a gig and then yr groovin high and you'll hold  on tight mm-hmm. Before the door of the office in the decaying brownstone building, confused  noises from inside -- squeaks, and a deep rich voice muttering softly, and now  and then, brief cascading phrases from a trumpet. A l l the cats say he's pretty weird. Maybe he's forgotten a l l about you,  sweety. Maybe h e ' l l say he hasn't got time or something. Nawl Rob wouldn do  that. "C'mon in," the voice responded to Monroe's knock, and he opened the door  on Rob sitting upright but not s t i f f l y in the center of the room holding his  horn, the top of his head completely shaven, except for a smooth high ridge  down the center like the Iroquois, with an open cage suspended from the light  fixture above his head and three or four multicoloured budgies and canaries  hovering about. Rob watched Monroe with small dark eyes set deep in his round  black face, and when he spoke, his lips formed a compact pucker pulling on his 54 wispy goatee. Rob motioned towards a chair and Monroe dropped down on the edge. keeping  a wary eye on the birds, which had settled on Rob's shoulders to contemplate  the v i s i t o r . (Jesus, what a weird scene! Damn you i f ya don break up in a  minute, sweety!) For an uncomfortable eternity, he tried to avoid Rob's sage  grin. "'Rob' is for 'Robin'." the older musician said f i n a l l y , and at this they  both broke up. "I love to have birds around me," he continued gravely. "They  give me a sense of freedom, they make me wanta groove high. Y' know? And  they're a good audience. They have more acute hearing than humans." Rob's  voice dropped several decibels, took wing and echoed through moist caverns, pausing now and then before radiant apertures leading to the surface. "I don  know bout you, son, but I feel that I gotta have an audience a l l the time. Y'  know? I can't play just for myself. I have to know that someone is diggin.  So I blow for the birds." Rob smiled at Monroe's confusion. "Well, get out your horn, boy, and let's  see how the birds dig you!" How the birds!..Jesus, i f someone here ain't off his nut! "It's like I was t e l l i n you. The birds catch the higher frequencies, the  wild, way-out sound vibrations a horn makes when the musician gets excited.  Usually, they start to sing along, and then you know shore nuff that you're blow- in with the real soul that gets across. Y'know? Well, go ahead son. Play  some thin." Monroe brought the horn to his lips nervously. He blew a few scales and  exercises to warm up, and then he eased into the tune he had written that morn- ing, called Groovin With Rob. He tried to blow i t the way he heard i t in his  head, the way he had been scatting i t a l l day. 55 The birds remained silent and motionless. Rob raised his hand to stop  Monroe. "Now, c'mon son, let's try i t once again. For the birds this time, huh?" For the birds! Christ, man. I don't care who you are. You got some god- damn chutzbah to put those motherflippin stoolies in judgment over me! There were beads of perspiration on Monroe's forehead and his eyelids were  taut over pressure of tears and a flare of prismatic sun-rays. He blew out his  anger in a flaming flu i d torrent. He blew until his torso rocked back and  forth and the tears began to escape his eyes. The twitters of the birds and  the fluttering of their wings f i l l e d his ears, and Rob chuckled, "Yeah!" He  opened his eyes to let the liquid bathe his hot cheeks and for the f i r s t time  he grooved really grooved high with Rob. Monroe found himself heading downtown along Park Avenue towards Ralph's pad, where he could count on having a close approximation to a saints' feast celebra-tion Fourth-of-July night (or, as a matter of fact, any holiday that gave an ex-cuse) and where he could also find safety from the Black Nat s t i l l on his t a i l , because Ralph himself was an o f f i c i a l on the Nats' executive almost since i t s formation shortly after his arrival from Montreal, where he had tried to make i t as a drummer in the Air Force marching band and had decided to cut out when the band was stoned by militant separatistes for playing BBritania Rules the  Waves in the Ste. Jean Baptiste Day Parade. (Nevertheless, Ralph had total em-pathy, as he explained on the way to a Black Nats meeting two months ago in the basement on 125th Street, where Monroe got hung with this albatross.... "Shit, man! You know what I did?" Ralph's Cheshire cat smile flashed neon  behind a confusion of giggly clipped syllables and gestures like the darting 56 adjustment of his glasses on the broad bridge of his nose that Monroe remembered  from camp, where Ralph had been stable-boy and occasional drummer with Monroe  for the shows. "Why, I put my f i s t through that motherfuckin RCAF shield and  left the bass drum there in the middle of the street and I be fucked i f I didn  jus run right into that hailstorm and throw my arms around those beautiful separatistes catsl Because, I t e l l ya baby, I under-stood 1 I talked to those  cats and I found out that here is where I belong, fightin for my people same as  they are fightin for theirs. So I came home as their ambassador, as represen- tative from the French-speakin people seekin their separate North American state  to the merican Negro seekin his separate state. Now here I am takin you to see  a meetin where plans are bein discussed for the Alliance pour 11 Independence to  join with the Black Nats in blowin up the Statue of Liberty, that glorified pat  on the back for two centuries of White Anglo-Saxon mericans. And what was I  when you knew me, huh?" - inquiringly jerking his head back a couple of times -"a fuckin sad-ass nigger-boy stable-hand for spoiled-rotten kids of Jewish  millionaires, up to my ears in horse-shit and sayin Yassuh Boss to fuckin twelve-year-olds I Now I t e l l ya, baby, there is fuckin progress, n'est-ce pas?" Monroe remained silent, s t i l l somewhat paranoid in the inner city of the  Blacks, gripping his trumpet case more firmly as i f this were his only defense  against faces that might be reproving (Yeahl...Musician, see?...Jazz -- you  better believe i t , baby 1...Almost a soul brother, huh?) Inside, the chairs were a l l taken and Monroe and Ralph had to stand at the  back, in front of the sign saying FREEDOM MEANS SEPARATION and the row of stone-faced Black Nat Enforcers (also known as "the Boppers", from the name given to  the old fighting gangs which gave them their training, in some cases interrupted  by Riverside or "zip five" -- five years maximum -«• at the state correctional institution at Cornstock), in their black capes and berets emblematic of the Nats' 57 strong-arm corps; they a l l seemed uniquely unbothered by the choking heat  which, Ralph knew, would grow worse once the speeches started. While they were waiting, Ralph sketched for Monroe the history of the Nats' organization: In the f i f t i e s , as the Saints, one of the East Harlem bopping  gangs, the members got caught up in the national wave of social protest around  the time the law was out to squash them and took an oath (by dipping their hands  in black paint mixed with blood) to quit dope and petty violence in the interest  of the cause of their people, which demanded the strongest possible shows of  force. The speech by Duke Doleful, so called and elected president because of his  reputation for being at once the most sober and the most sophisticated of the  Nats (He wore a bow-tie at a l l times and sported a Pali moustache, enough in i t - self to set him apart from most Negroes) commenced: "BROTHER NATS. THE WHITE ESTABLISHMENT IN NORTH AMERICA HAS HAD ITS DAY I WE KNOW THAT WHITEY IS A DEVIL AND A SERPENT, AN ANAEMIC DEGENERATION  FROM THE ORIGINAL HOT-BLOODED TRULY MASCULINE NEGRO AND GALLIC MEN. WE  KNOW THA T THROUGH HIS COWARDICE AND CUNNING WHITEY HAS GAINED AND MAIN- TAINED HIS POWER. AND WE KNOW NOW THAT HIS POWER STRUCTURE DUPED US  GANGS INTO FIGHTING AMONG OURSELVES, MESSING WITH FRATRICIDE, WASTING  AND LOSING PRECIOUS BLACK HUMANITY. BECAUSE WE COULD NOT IDENTIFY THE ENEMY. BUT WE ARE LEARNING ALL THE TIME THAT OUR ENEMY IS NOT OUR OWN  BLACK BROTHERS, AND NOT THE COMMUNISTS -- THE VIET CONG NEVER CALLED ME  A NIGGER, DID HE? --AND THAT OUR REAL ENEMY HAS HAD HIS DAY 1 AND, I TELL YOU BROTHER NATS, OUR DAY HAS COME AGAINI (Scattered shouts of  "Make i t plain, Brother Dukel Make jt plain, Mr. Pres'dentl") THE WHITE DEVIL HAS NO PLACE IN A STATE SET UP FOR THE ORIGINAL AND TRUE MEN. 58 SO WE MUST BEGIN TO REDEEM OUR POWER BY ATTACKING AND GAINING CONTROL  OF WHITEY'S SYMBOLS AND INSTITUTIONS...." Monroe shifted his feet, closed his eyes, fe l t the tightening f i s t of con- gested air baptizing him stale and soggy, and behind him the unmoving Nat En-forcers, each like Leila's life-sized dolls or Emil's voodoo dolls that he  whittled unceasingly in the bunk at Camp Hatikvoh as he purveyed anti-Fascist  indoctrination to the kids and d r i l l e d them in undercover investigation of  Nazi leaders in hiding. Finally, the period of questions and comments from the floor (questions like  "When exackly w i l l our day come, Duke Doleful?" and "Will French be an o f f i c i a l  language in the new state, Monsieur?"); Monroe muttered "FUCKAROUNDi" and  jumped to his feet: "Heyl I've been listening to these speeches, and frankly  I think that you're adopting the methods of the group you're putting down. I  don't think you want to eliminate Whitey's corruption as much as you want a  piece of the action for yourselves! That's what gaining and maintaining the  power means, for chrissake: by': the time you've gained i t , you don't have any- thing worth maintaining: Don't you see that basing your state on superiority  of race means you've sold to this power sickness even before you start?..." '-^ Heyl Wait a minute I" Duke Doleful and the other speakers rose. The En- forcers twitched with anticipation, and a couple of them made moves for Monroe. "C'mon, you dumb motherl We're splittin'." Ralph grasped Monroe's arm and  steered him towards the door. Within sight of the Park Avenue tunnel now, and hardly anyone walking except the two of them. A sporadic drizzle making his perspiring body shudder: even the weather an aspect of the betrayal by this city which was, more than the others, the city of betrayal, ever since (said the Canadian high school history 59 book-) the Dutch West India Company director-general for the province of New Netherlands purchased Manhattan Island from Algonkian Indians with pieces of bright cloth, beads, and other trinkets to the value of 10 guldens or about 24 dollars. And later, intermittent but savage warfare with the Algonkians, because William Kieft finked on his promise to protect them from the Iroquois after levying a tax for this presumed purpose, and Peter Stuyvesant, through st r i c t supervision and resistance to his own company and colonists, succeeded in making the city a present (ideal for the man who has everything and doesn't smoke) to the English. And (said the American college text-) Jacob Leisler, f i r s t popular governor, hanged as a traitor in 1691 by William and Mary's new governor (named Sloughter) and exonerated by parliament four years later. Then the Sons of Liberty, screwed up the ass by the Stamp Act, and (over there to the West, up the Hudson) Benedict Arnold planning to surrender his fort to the English, and (to the East, down 45th Street at the corner of 1st Avenue) Nathan Hale hanged. And Boss rulecin Tammany Hall -- the Tweed ring stealing between 75 million and 200 million. City of betrayal for us both (Monroe comprehended in his thought the name-less Nat Enforcer, now sounding behind him loud enough to make him quicken his step.) For you too: you who sailed to this land a slave aboard The Good Ship Jesus, whose captain conducted prayer service twice a day, then retired to write hymns like "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear, i t quells the sorrow, drowns his fears, and drives away his tears;" you who heard t e l l of the Old Testament ;Jews in bondage and swung low with "Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel?" and "Jordan's river is c h i l l y and cold none can cross but the true and bold"; you who plotted revolution in Pointe Coupee Parish, La., got arrested, tried, and placed aboard a boat which drifted slowly down the river, stopping at every parish church until New Orleans, where you and your cohorts were hanged one at a time from trees; you who believed firmly, during the early days of 60 steamboat travel on the Mississippi, that the fires were fueled with well-fattened slaves and that at a crucial moment in the race a steamboat captain did not hesitate to give^the command, "Throw in another nigger!"; you who were alleged to have conspired to burn this city and consequently were burned at the stake. The drizzle became rain: Monroe was thankful, and, recalling the f i r e hy-drant, took these as signs that the party at Ralph's pad tonight would be the fiesta for the water s p i r i t s , the wildest of the saints' feast celebrations, and that somehow tonight the Nat Enforcer would be his salvation. 61 SOLO 3 : Saints' Fea 62 Ralph's pad was actually the home of his mistress, wife of a wealthy gourmet who was away in Europe collecting new recipes: i t was one of those perennials of Old World architecture replanted in New York, a red-brick mini-mansion with wrought iron r a i l i n g along the steps leading up from the cobblestones of Wash-ington Mews, the tiny street just before Washington Square Park that is off-bounds to the t r a f f i c of Fifth Avenue, so much an oasis -- more than the park or in fact any outdoor spot in Manhattan -- that Monroe would often travel a l l the way from Harlem just to enjoy a secluded s t r o l l there, and Ralph would do a bit of a tap-dance on the cobblestones whenever he was entering or leaving his pad. "Useta be a nice quiet street before I made the scene," Ralph once explained with a grin. "No niggers, no kikes, no commies, no beatniks. You know: useta be a forest." Voices filtered out of the candle-lit front room to be drawn into the vortex7 of t r a f f i c sounds, as Monroe watched the Black Nat glide past without a glance at him towards the July Fourth pinwheels and purple dragons over Washington Square arch, before opening the door on the hallway collage of Vishnu-Krishna Dylan and the Stones in drag bare-breasted movie queens of the twenties Fight of the Month colour shot of world light-heavyweight t i t l e match between Jose Torres and Chic Calderwood at San Juan (TORRES THE WINNERnBY A KNOCKOUT AND STILL CHAMPION) The Assault on Mount Rushmore Victory at Iwo Jima Discovery of Elec t r i c i t y (explosive spark between wires held by three men in turn-of-century dress with inscription LOOK! I AM MAKING ALL THINGS NEW) the Archbishop of Canterbury with lusty eyes and open mouth and outstretched hand juxtaposed with reclining nude plum-like nipple upturned pin-ups of Marvel Comics super-heroes (Fantastic Four Spider-Man Thor Incredible Hulk Sub-Mariner Doctor Strange) the orange-juice advertisement of the g i r l sucking a huge orange up and down a straw colour monograph of Aztec Calendar Stone napkin from Mother Blues (Old Town 63 Chicago) bullfight tickets parking tickets from Montreal New York Washington New Orleans Mexico City San Francisco posters of Jazz in the Garden (Museum of Modern Art New York) Trips Festival San Francisco rock groups The Greatful Dead The Jefferson Airplane Country Joe and the Fish The ThirteenthfFloor Elevator Big Brother and the Holding Company Fun-in-the-Sun Club (Affiliated with the American Sunbathing Association/Family participation is invited but single men and women of good character are acceptable too/ 'A Clean Mind in a Healthy Body1) Vote Republican and Make New York SAFE Again(girl lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk several black-jacketed hoodlums standing over her) Another Wrecking Job by Jay Demolition Corporation Only Clean Living Can Curb the MENACE of V.D. ( g i r l in seductive pose with cigarette in holder and 1940's-style low-cut dress with s l i t hip) The C.I.A. Wants YOU Legalize POT L.S.D.. for the U.S.A. Mary Poppins is a Junky headlines A Middle-Aged Mother Visits the Teen Scene Carni-vorous Westerners Offend Sensitive Asians news stories of research reports on psychedelics ("In many instances formerly productive individuals have adopted the attitude that one should live merely for subjective experiences and not play the various 'games' -- like work -- that society demands") oppy swirls about scraw-led g r a f f i t i She closed her knees/ I'm sad to say/ I lost my nose upon that day Where is that Jesus?/ Lost that Jesus/ Jesus was here/ Where is that Jesus?/ Must be in an outhouse/ Never could hold that Jesus cover of Weird Terror comic (man in tattered clothing standing in abject fright against dripping stone wall facing ring of green-skinned ghouls chortling You are trapped...Heh,HeKI Trapped in the DUNGEON OF THE DOOMEDI) pages of the Sunday Comics Dick Tracy Crimestopper Advice to Young Rookies: Wanted criminals are known to hole up in Skid Row areas and "THE COUNTRY THAT CONTROLS MAGNETISM CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE" Tarzan's chase after Stryker who is accidentally devoured by crocodiles as he attempts to escape the jungle with a boat-load of opium (Tarzan: "That's not quite the end I had in 64 mind for Stryker I.. .But any way of stopping a dope peddler i s a good one!*') Monroe zeroed in on a brown Reijlander photo entitled S p i r i t i s t i c a l Photo- graph done in 1860 with double exposures for the spiritual presences: a bearded man seated on the edge of a bed where his wife lay holding their baby, with the spirits of an ancient face in the air between them, a boy seated on the floor next to the man's cane, and a woman's profile set in the side of the man's face. According to Ralph -- himself somewhat of a photographer and painter, as well as a musician -- the kind of thing that is now again being attempted after a century. This fact of the revival of a technique belonged with the photo-graph's stirring or ghosts for Monroe, i t s reiteration of a transcendental flash at camp just before the end of the summer, when he had noticed that the mist hovering over the mountains his f i r s t morning there had drifted across the lake and now reposed over the mountains on the other side: things happen not in a straight line or a c i r c l e , but in waves, patterns of recurrence. He knew that once inside that door he would find Ralph's water spirits celebration not simply another turn-on session but actually the revoicing of a specific happen-ing -- perhaps his i n i t i a t i o n into psychedelics at camp, just as the S p i r i t i s t - i c a l Photograph was in a sense the revoicing of Ralph's painting done that day in the rarts-and-crafts room.... Cyclops kneeling on Miami Beach laughing and toothless, wearing party hat and pointed beard, cornets and fifes emerging from his leathery face, offering  a basket of candy canes, balloons and polka-dotted ice cream to a child writhing  on a bed of nails, as his frantic bloated mother attempts to block the alien  with beach umbrellas, fur coats, and a shield bearing the Star of David. "Kein Aqyinn Horce, or_ Beware the Bogey Man, My Son." Ralph painted a round, bobbing cloud in the otherwise clear blue sky of his painting with the ease of 65 dotting an i , and bowed as far as his waist to the explosions of laughter from  Monroe. Emil and Myra. He scrutinized them with .His narrow, bloodshot eyes, while he stroked his goatee with one hand and ran the other through his greying  hair ("Guess how old he i s , " Emil had challenged Monroe after Ralph had intro- duced them, "and you can divide that in half"; "You see, he's more than un peu dissipe'," Ralph's girlfriend Myra had chimed in mysteriously.) "Your people-"  his voice stopped their laughter with i t s strange quality of having instantan- eously dematerialized a large chunk of i t s e l f , travelled with the aid of a  subliminal time-machine and returned to f i l l the void with centuries of abject  suffering - "they have such f u l l y developed bourgeois indulgences. Sado-maso- chism, gluttony, avarice. They must turn on to pain." "He means, the Jews must get high on persecution and that's why they're so  nasty and possessive," Myra interpreted Ralph again, solicitously dipping her  cigarette holder, a duplicate of the one carried by her mother, Mrs. Lerner,  the widowed camp owner. Monroe noticed other resemblances as well -- the raised  eyebrows, the icy smile — but none of the arrogance of the middl-e-aged woman  in this girlfe clear, wide eyes that seemed to strain for total comprehension.  She spoke, like Ralph, in nervous spurts, but without the sense of joyful over- flowing of his expression. "I could reply to Ralph's charge", Emil said quietly, "but he might find i t  too obvious. Or too true." "Or too sentimental," Ralph murmured, without looking away from his work. An agitated silence: Emil looked down, Myra appeared to be blowing smoke  rings over Ralph's head, and Monroe turned away from the small table in a corner  of the arts-and-crafts room to look more closely at his surroundings. Slices of limestone embracing discreetly in the other corners; suspended, bee-hive Oriental lanterns threatening aerial bombardment; landscape poster art 66 crying out for propagandistic messages to dignify i t . Dim lighting from cur- tained windows (except for the skylight over Ralph's painting), and a pervasive  new odour, like the smell of ocean and burnt almonds and perfume whose frag- rance i s good enough to eat and swath the body in i t s warmth. Exposed to the  single patch of sunlight in the room and working intensely, Ralph appeared i n - deed to have swallowed this energy-producing aroma. "Hey, baby, get out the'matchbox and we'll entertain our guests." Myra, reluctant at f i r s t , without a word walked to a low cabinet at the side of the room and took from one of the drawers a small pinewood chest, a souvenir object from a New ..England,' town. "'Fragrance of the Pines Brings Memories of Good Times'" -Ralph read the inscription on the box and a thin, machine-gun chuckle i s s -ued from deep in his throat. He opened the l i d , sniffed, closed his eyes and licked his lower l i p ; his forehead expanded like a flower opening to sunlight. "Do you turn on?" he asked Monroe. "You're a musician, aren't you?" "I never tried i t . Wouldn't mind though." Ralph hummed softly, as he lovingly tapped the supple dark green grains onto cigarette paper, rolled up the joint and tightened the ends: "Tea in the evening, tea at sunrise 'Make a man healthy, wealthy and wise." As he l i t up, Myra put out her cigarette and dispassionately commented to  the silent onlookers: "Ralph is usually more serious about the r i t u a l , but he  just picked up a couple of kilos in Mexico before camp, and he's starting to  take the stuff for granted." Ralph balanced the cigarette on his l i p , sucking interminably into that  centuries-deep hollow, passed i t to Myra, and motioned for a l l of them to join  him in sitting crossed-legged on the floor. "Do you take sitting for granted, Myra? Or breathing?" Ralph asked, his 67 voice a taut grunt from the necessity of holding the air in his stomach. Myra drew with deliberation, and passed the cigarette to Monroe without  looking at him. He shivered at the searing pain in his throat. Emil shook  his head, but Ralph motioned for him to try i t ; when he did, the taste made  him cough until he had to get up for a drink of water. Ralph smiled and closed  his eyes. When the buoyancy put him into the swim with the things around him in a  supple current of thisness T Monroe too closed his eves, a l l sounds clear as  reveille l i v i n g alternately at the centre and periphery of sound jungle while  low throbbing monotone sighs and surges everywhere sucking into i t s waves child- ren's cries Hev Bobby we're going to the beach race you there last one in the  water is a whooo-aah whooo-aah of wind in the rafters or people breathing who  knows which and the pervasive familiar rhythmic hum of river through the gorge  perhaps what he was listening for that day in the recreationr. 1. hall but no sound  matters enough now to listen long isn't i t enough isn't i t beautiful just to  hear fu l l y and then to exinguish f u l l y what was heard with another sound since  to dwell jealously on one sound would certainly put an end to a l l this. "Hey, Monroe!" Ralph's voice was like a cool, sweet flu i d being poured into  his ear. "Too much! Huh?" He laughed, and Monroe giggled in reply. "Got something to eat, Myra?" Ralph's question reminded Monroe of his own  sudden hunger. Myra looked for the f i r s t time very alive and beautiful: a l l her features  were coloured with the same clear straining and surrender spoken by her eyes.  She floated to the side and came back with a large block of dark chocolate.  Then the three of them sat in a c i r c l e beneath the skylight and savoured a  charge of sunlight through their bodies with each swallow of the precious sweet  substance. Emil sat apart, pale and s t i l l , and when Monroe looked upon him with 68 blackened, protruding eyes, he turned away, as i f he had seen blood at the sides  of Monroe's mouth. "Nervous 1 Je suis nervous 1" Ralph, dressed in a glistening red robe with gold embroidered stars and rcrescents, burst into the hall singing a Montmartre ditty about.Manhattan. He had his mistressinatow, a dark intense woman in black s i l k gown and v e i l , named Consuela, discovered by her American husband on a trip to Santo Domingo at the same time as a native paella for which only she knew the recipe (With this slim bond, their marriage had persisted for years, she preventing herself from practising fatal brujeria on him only by her clande-stine outlet of the saints' feast celebrations, at which she officiated as medium during his absences.) While Ralph slapped Monroe's hand in paroxysmic greeting, Consuela remained in the doorway, her orange-scarved head framed by loops of candle-light and recorded music of a West Indian steel band, and she fixed Monroe with proud, testing eyes, that could not help but bring back to him -- now with his thoughts tending to the ghosts -- Mrs. Lerner, standing in the doorway of the bleached pine house dominating the Hatikvoh camp-grounds his f i r s t day there, her eyebrows perenially raised almost to the line of peroxide shiny, laboriously combed hair, inviting him into the thickly carpeted den with liquor cabinet, fireplace, couch and aged photographs of "my young men" ( a l l smiling and mustachioed and from a former time, "my Saul" singled out as more sagacious than the rest, drawing almost inaudible sobs from her) and offering him wine -- dark red sweetness through the lips making hot a l l inside -- t e l l i n g wryly of her "new ones" and how "smart" she is and letting him pull closer on the couch to look beyond her metallic hair sunlight playing over "White Silver Sand to relaxed curves heaving gently to guide the rhythm of her conversation 69 Honeycomb warmth of low rumble rising and spreading a l l over power long dormant surging like volcanic lava that ignores boundaries of vascular mountain paths power never known so well ba&erso that i t was quite natural really to l i f t his arm to the level of the top of the seat and rest i t just touching against her hair and "Nice" she said yes nice that she understood him nice that they under-stood each other so very very- a door opening, Mrs. Lerner started, Monroe withdrew his arm, and both listened motionless to Emil's voice calling "Mrs. Lerner1" and his steps approaching until he appeared in the den: "Mrs. Lerner. I've been looking for you," and she answered, tight-lipped, running her hand quickly over her hair, "Well, now you've found me, Emill," and Monroe rose to leave, momentarily looking back in confusion at the unsmiling eyes. Ralph sent Consuela back into the room to prepare for the ceremony and he spoke to Monroe in a confidential tone: "They're after ya, baby. I guess you know already, huh?" "I've been tailed for the last hour. He's out there now, waiting for me." "Listen, man. I don't know what they have in mind for you. Because they know you're my friend, they wouldn't let me in on their plans. But I can t e l l ya i t ' s hot, baby, very hot. You'd best hide out here t i l l i t cools down. Here they won't touch you." "You're right, man, and I'd like to stay here. But- " Monroe looked down and sighed. I've got something in my head, Ralph, and now I just feel I have to get to the gig." Ralph clapped his arm on Monroe's shoulder and led him out of the h a l l . "Right you are, my man! But you'll stay and dig the proceedings for a while, eh? Black man's medicine most magical t r i p l " Monroe nodded and smiled. "Wouldn't mind. For a while." With the tape recorder off, a few low voices could be heard speaking various 70 mixtures of spic, jive, canuck and Village hippy jargon. Huge round home-made multicoloured candles, with lumps a l l over them suggesting faces on a monstrous Mount Rushmore, illuminated on the walls the Muslim emblem of white crescent and star on red background; a quilt with letters woven to spell out DEATH TO COPS; a bleeding, nail-studded hand of Christ; a photo of city devastation clipped from Muhammed Speaks, with the t i t l e TRACKS OF THE TORNADO and the caption, "There is no refuge from the storm when the wrath of Allah descends, as the Messenger Elijah Muhammed has often warned. The sign on the side of the building in the background in this Topeka, Kan. scene could offer no shelter. The sign reads 'a refuge in time of storm.' The tornado which swept through the area claimed 12 lives, injured more than 400, and l e f t 4,500 homeless"; a clipping from Mainliner, the United Airlines magazine: "By Papal dispensation, Roman Catholic passengers on United Airlines flights are not obliged to the Church law of abstinence"; and, in a velvet frame, the edict issued by the Bishop of San Juan, condemning s p i r i t s ' feast celebrations and saint cults: "We r e i t -erate the prohibition against assistance at sessions, against consultation of media and curers, even when they clothe themselves in a pious a i r , due to the great danger which sp i r i t u a l i s t practices... hold for the faith." Ralph motioned Monroe to an empty folding chair between a long-haired French-Canadian with sailor cap and a black moustache like those of the nautilo emble-matic of Zig-Zag cigarette papers, who was leafing through a C i v i l Liberties Union pamphlet giving advice on criminal arrest, and a sallow-faced Puerto Rican youth in a black-and-white striped pancho studying a book entitled Los Derechos  del Hombre and singing sotto voce a familiar El Barrio l y r i c to the tune of a song from Carmen: My mother gave me a quarter to buy some soda water I don like soda water so I bought some marijuana 71 As Ralph called for silence and turned on a tape of "Ava Maria", Monroe considered how the religious mish-mash of the room and of the ceremony just commencing reflected Ralph's eclecticism in religion (as in his arts, chicks, jobs, etc.), progressing from Baptist at birth; to Pentecostal by persuasion ( l i t e r a l l y ) of Harlem evangelists like Rev. Goodfellow; to Roman Catholic through association with Boricua and Canadiens gangs; to Jewis (after being convinced that he was the Messiah by a Chasidic student of Talmud working as a councillor at Camp Hatikvoh); to Muslim under the influence of the Black Power movement back in the States; to psychedelics from his Village contacts; with bouts of Swedenborgianism, Rosicrucianism, Bahai, agnosticism and atheism along the way; and Boricua-style Spiritualism at a l l times. Ralph once claimed that he was above a l l a mental traveller, upon each conversion making a spiritual pilgrimage to Mecca, Jerusalem, and beyond to Asgard, home of Odin and Thor, and to the multi-dimensional universe of Doctor Strange. Ralph disappeared into the kitchen and reappeared a few moments later wear-ing a red kerchief and bearing a tiny red-and-gold Buddha with incense on his lap burning a thick, sweet t r a i l behind Consuela, who carried a pitcher of cloudy water across the room and l i f t e d i t three times towards the mangled hand of Christ above the locked door, then took the Buddha from Ralph and similarly l i f t e d i t three times. She banged the pitcher three times on a table laden with food and began pouring into paper cups, while Ralph marched majestically through the room, waving the incense, before the faces of the guests, and depos-ited the Buddha before an electric fan that soon spread the choking rich odour throughout the room. He tempered this with selections from the mantlepiece, a veritable home Botanica with Lady Luck Room Spray (Rocio Dama de Suerte), Jinx-Removing Deodorant Air Spray (to combat bru^eria) , Holy Spirit Bath, Crusader Religious Candles, Magnetic St. Christopher's Statue, and various aphrodisiacs, 7 2 herbs, quack medicines, magic formulae and Oriental mysteries. Consuela p i r -ouetted back along the fragrant t r a i l s , offering the cups on a Mexican silver tray with embossed calendar stone, that her husband reserved for his gourmet banquets. Monroe took the cup mechanically, his gaze fixed on TRACKS OF THE TORNADO through the aromatic swirl of Consuela's half-dancing form, and i t was only after he had swallowed that the tornado churned out of time and distance through Consuela's deathly-sweet snake motion to confront him with the realiza-tion that the liquid was cloudy because in each cup was dissolved 300 milligrams of L.S.D. He could feel the eyes around him already spinning into themselves and form-ing variegated dot-planet.visions out of the trembling shadows cast by the candle on the Muslim emblem and the hand of Christ. Ralph was tugging at Consuela's kerchief and whispering in her ear the piropo he had written during his trip to Mexico: O.fala (Wa Sha Allah!) that you were the olive-skinned daughter of that noble Visigoth governor over Ceuta and jewelrlike water of Hercules' p i l l a r s that he guarded for a l l Spain t i l l he sent his daughter to Toledo the court of the king to learn but not such knowledge as the king would bring to her loveliness... Consuela motioned him away, as she sat down in the room's only easy chair and attempted to compose herself into the medium's trance by closing her eyes and placing her hands over her ears. But Ralph persisted, pulling her hand away and reciting in a gentle singing whisper: 73 O.fala (Wa Sha Allah!) that you were she whose father then opened the gates of his fortress to Allah's black sons and the Reconquistida raged for seven centuries at rates of blood to regain the mountain so freely blindly taken for Allah given for her... Consuela rocked her head in Ralph's arms and began a low ecstatic wail that un-wound like a ribbon through the dense euphony of the Ava Maria. Monroe was seeing images as images through the half-open curtains the soft brilliance of Washington Mews emanations of the gaslit era and beyond i t the vortex of white and blue fireworks bubbling out over Washington Square images of the dutside like images of the past faces of the altes floating about Emil's l i f e l e s s form and Leila's Storyville of the Blue Book sporting women implanted like the hand of Christ and the Muslim emblem in the shell of this present inner world a shell that revolves on the axis of the present and manifests the crucial images in waves patterns of recurrence and at certain of these crucial apices he had actually broken through the image shell and truly know what was outside and past and in so doing he had of course betrayed an aspect of himself for at every moment we must betray one world in order to know the other. Consuela's wail faded with the conclusion of the Ava Maria, and now she was listening earnestly to a more confidential message from Ralph. When he had f i n -ished, she held her head tightly and arose, transported, to impart to the guests information from the spi r i t that possessed her. She went f i r s t to Monroe, ex-tended her hands to his and crossed his arms twice. Then she placed her hands on his head and stared at their wild flexings. Finally, she leaned over and 74 told him in a husky, accented undertone the message from Ralph: "You got i t now. Couldn't stop i f you wanted to." She moved on to cross someone else, and Monroe's eyes met Ralph's, silently acknowledging the familiar message from a s p i r i t of the past that possessed them both. In the dim silence, with the incense s t i l l thick and sweet, a flood of retrospective high closed Monroe's eyes on the gem-like apparition of city lights and transformed them into jewelled clasps of daylight on the mountain peaks across from the beach of Camp Hatikvoh,where he had waited with Ralph for dawn andMs f i r s t acid t r i p . . . . Rush of water from the waterfalls around the bend of the gorge, and Ralph's  lined face in the gathering light as vet not returned from time travels, his  own personal preparation being Zen exercises, affording him purification through  distance, he claimed, as he locked himself into the lotus position, a creature  of night, looking fearful of the sun's emergence from the lake, a time traveller  with a taste for eighteenth-century clothing — this morning, a short black  coat and breeches from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, topped off by a large  blue tuque pulled down over long hair pulled to fan out wildly as far as thick black eyebrows above deep-set eyes, drooping at the corners. Before that f i r s t time, Ralph was saying, a l l those rules about putting your  house in order, setting up the right conditions -- a l l so much bullshit the  moment the great hunger has taken hold of you. Comes a time when you say, let  the world happen. And when the cover is l i f t e d off the plate enough to show  you more than the aroma of gossip you have so long sniffed with the nameless  pangs, then you say Fuck a l l that, fuck a l l the rules, just do i t . And a l l that  is supposed to be true of the experience also is nothing beside the actual ex- perience of the happening of this world. At the beginning, true, just that 75 great hunger.... The sun rolled over the mountains like a yellow glass ball to shatter in  the water and spread i t s luminous solution as far as the opposite shore. Ralph  took the l i d off a paper cup f i l l e d with warm water. He unwrapped the sugar  cube, broke i t up with a pencil, made a cloudy solution in the water, and mark- ed the one-third and two-third way points on the side of the cup. The sun, now  a f r i g i d fluorescence, coated the scene with an antiseptic silence, that remind-ed Monroe of a public washroom, with i t s t i l e d floor, mirror and gleaming ivory,  flowing urinals. "Why wait for the sun, Ralph?" "Consciousness of an extra-terrestrial presence. Dig? Here, drink to just  below this mark." "How much in there?" - taking the cup from him. "Bout two hundred milligrams in each section." Monroe drank about one quarter and passed the cup back. "No, no." Ralph grasped Monroe's wrist. "A l i t t l e bit is no good, man." Monroe drank to just below the pencil mark and Ralph smiled. "You got i t now, baby. You couldn't stop i t now i f you wanted to." He went  to re-dissolve the residue in lake water. Couldn't stop now i f you wanted to. This is the beginning of the conscious- ness. Why stop, now or ever? What is there to stop and who is there to do the  stopping? The progress of total awareness, the recognition of the happening of  this world can be stopped no more than the sound of water in the gorge or the  pale glow of the sun, the sense of breathing or thinking or sitting down. Perhaps  you don't even start doing i t , perhaps you are doing i t a l l the time. And per- haps, true, you couldn't start doing i t now i f you wanted to either, because i t is always already being done. 76 Fear was sucked from him in a flaming, fl u i d torrent of red and gold frag- ments and swallowed by a sunspot. Seeking the sun's metallic embrace and satis- fied to watch forever the kaleidoscope of exploding red and blue stars in that  leaf over there ... fiery aquadeliria. Low throbbing monotone everywhere many sounds but no sound worth dwelling  on since a l l the sounds are in each one.... Dangling arms and legs as i f they  belonged to someone else bouncing crazily on topless heights founded upon bottom- less depths moving but not progressing on the sponge-earth not going anywhere  since things around in same relation unchanged.... Home the f i r s t dawning of the  f i r s t home and everything trees mountains sun lush and huge.... A comic book  wonderland of everyone's soul extended in relaxation Ralph is Ralph and yet is  also Miclffi Mouse and a rowboat too has much character.... Being thinking doing a l l things standing up walking around lying down a l l at once from light-speed fever of being.... Couldn't stop couldn't start death is not to be feared the  terror is rather the moment which creeps up on the testimony of i t s denial and  shows i t s brutal naked strength. At the start of the come-down period, a time of inter-modal daze, the resid- ual shadow of heightened awareness, they climbed up the h i l l to the recreation  h a l l , and in the stillness of afternoon rest period they had a musical happening, for awhile .just playing silent music, which seemed the most natural medium for  grooving with the new consciousness they shared. Monroe was running his fingers  over the keyboard as i f playing normally -- but without sounding the notes, ex- cept occasionally by accident, or else he blew air lightly into his trumpet and  tapped the pistons, but not hard enough to push them down. . And with an Eastern  song flute, Ralph strained to work himself up to the point of getting sound and  then to stop at that point. 77 Deep whoo-ooh of breath through the hollows of the horns and sounds coming  so freely you never know when one sometimes following another quickly or two at  the same time or widely separated harmonies dissonances intervals beautiful ac- cidents Mozart accidents Charlie Parker accidents and a l l the time as i f some- one else making those sounds the horns there but the head somewhere so far away  pumped by the breath higher and higher to who can say? what to say? who? what?... Zen meditation music had succeeded the Ava Maria on the tape recorder and Consuela had replaced the orange kerchief with a purple one, a colour signifying the s p i r i t of Le Docteur Beforg, a French vineyard-keeper turned voodoo doctor after his immigration to Santo Domingo, where he had channeled his talents ex-clusively into the concoction of progressively more potent a r t i f i c i a l wines, until his very skin assumed the colour of his obsession. As the vehicle for Beforg's s p i r i t , Consuela sampled a variety of aged wines which her husband had brought back from the four corners of the world, and spiralled over the carpet, as Ralph dauntlessly continued his intimate r e c i t a l : O.fala (Wa Sha Allah!) that you were she Would I then be the father traitor to his own bravery visionary of black fires of hate or would I be the royal seducer last of his line for taking what was his right or any man's that could recognize such sweetness? Consuela stopped dancing and interrupted Ralph to consult with him on the matter 78 of Anna Martinez' pregnancy. Ralph replied, chuckling, and Consuela walked over to Anna, crossed her arms, fel t her head and whispered loudly, "Beforg says the only solution to your problem is to fuck i t to death!" (Which Anna proceeded to do, after grabbing the man sitting next to her and pulling him to-wards the bedroom.) Consuela lurched, broke into a frenzied cry and tore away her purple kerchief. Ralph, grinning, cupped his hands over her ear and tried to move with her, chanting: O.jala (Wa Sha Allah!) that I were neither nor even the fine Castilian descendent of the honey-tongued Moors who so easily speaks with a sigh such praises as this piropo but only the dull southern hombre who with fingers opens wide one eye in tribute to your olive-skinned beauty. Consuela began to rip off the rest of her clothes. Again, Monroe caught Ralph's eye, and he understood that Ralph was speaking the piropo really to Myra, who, as they both knew, had made the death trip without acid, without anything except sorrow and confusion and dread; Myra, who was their true s p i r i t of the past, linking their acid-vision memories tonight.... Exercise in bed with Myra, carried out beneath the notice of her mother Mrs.  Lerner, and scandalous mixtures of pipe tobacco and horse manure "to smoke out  a l l the shit 'round here!" were Ralph's ways of coming down, "wasting." Monroe  would spend long hours at the piano, melting away the cobwebs of bop-style charts, 79 a l l the habits dictated by written expression that got in the way of his dis- covery of his own voice. For both of them, coming down meant feeling at once  humbled by the magnitude of a religious experience and, in the presence of  others. finely f o r t i f i e d in the knowledge that the others would act and speak  differently i f they had only seen; i t was inevitably a period of thin air and  ringing in the ears and a numbing consciousness of the images everywhere about  one that cancelled any effect their r e a l i t i e s might have on the feelings; i t  was, in part, that hygenic stillness Monroe had noticed on the beach, that made  any expression of energy a farce, a travesty of the overwhelming demands that  beauty can make; i t was, above a l l , a time of l i s t l e s s self-examination and a  sickening sense of helplessness. One night. Ralph turned Monroe on to some Moroccan hasheesh, chased by swal- lows of rum and dexadrine tablets. It was a brutal desperate nails-and-pin- cushion high that drove them immediately from each other's presence into the  night to stumble off in different directions. Monroe was dimly aware that he  was heading through the woods to the patch of clearing at the point where the  shorelines came together to form the mountain gorge, a favourite spot for lovers  or for the initiations of novice junior counsellors, who might be led there  blindfolded and l e f t alone to 'find their way back to camp in the dark, or set  adrift on the lake in the middle of the night after being solicitously borne  there asleep upon their mattresses. (Thus, the point had been variously dubbed  "Ball Point", "Devil's T a i l " and "Schlemiel's Curse".) Tonight was his mistress,  i t s favours the mist, heaviest over the point, and nature's jug band — rhythmic  harmony of trees breathing, river through the gorge, crickets — and fragrance  of the pines, jabbing at the skin in a thousand places, reviving that diffusion  of lovely loose warmth. In the trees faces of old men (used to think once that faces of dead relatives 80 could be recognized in clouds and trees and lakes) nodding over the hollow of  the path and whispering Pirke Aboth Sayings of the Fathers the book that mother  bought for the Bar-Mitzvah that never was Yisrael averim zeh bazeh shoeshine  boys on Broadway whores of Yisrael-A g i r l standing naked and moonlit in the clearing at Devil's T a i l looking  out over the lake. She grips her dress coiled and looped over the branch of  a tree. The sun in the treetops no longer is seen the moon broken red and  gold among the branches Come gather to welcome the Sabbath Our Queen crickets  answer the trees and waves kissing the rock and the low hum the throbbing mono- tone the fiery tingling of the thighs- It was Myra. Monroe strained to perceive through the throbbing in his  head but didn't move. She tightened the loop with a quick motion, climbed up  on a stump, and remained there with her head bowed and her body swaying enough  so that the moonlight played over her f u l l white breasts and buttocks. Monroe  moved. "Myra!" She turned, uttered a quick whimper, and f e l l from the stump to a kneeling  position on the ground, crying steadily a l i t t l e g i r l ' s bawling cry. Monroe  bent down beside her and smoothed her hair and ran his,fingers down her back,  ending up at the small crook at i t s base. "She's found out about me and Ralph, and about the grass and everything!"  Myra sobbed. "She calls Ralph a bum and a schwarzer, and she slaps me around  and calls me a l i t t l e bitch! The only reason I didn't run away is that I wanted  to stay near Ralph. But- He doesn't care! He .just says, Don't bring me down --i t ' s her hang-up! He doesn't want to take me away. Fucked-up scene! So much  bad vibrations. Just nowhere. I don't want i t anymore! You've got to let me fini s h ! " 81 He had been caressing her neck and now he stopped her cries with a kiss  that made scarlet flashes in violaceous caverns a f i l i g r e e dance of pain in the  head Oh please please Love Me Tender as i f the cat pursued in the dream at the  beach so long ago had f i n a l l y been caught and rode furry and sleek over the  rumble rising to a roar of grey-green bending to burrow between her breasts  while she pulls closer and with her fingers tightly curved scratches up and down  the back like slow-moving el e c t r i c i t y smell and taste of Honeycomb Honeycomb eyes tightly closed hot burst of scarlet in the murky grey-green then hard  breathing and gentle floating and soft kisses i n f i n i t e l y liquid. They walked back through the woods quickly and silently, Myra not wearing  her dress but clutching i t to her. The grass on the deserted common before  the Lerner house was thick and moist, so Monroe took off his sandals and walked  barefoot. The mist brushed past them in cool spurts while the new sun burned away at  i t : Myra said she f e l t as i f they were in the path of a stampede of people  fleeing from a f i r e . "But it2'-s more like being kissed than like being trampled," Monroe protested. "No, really i t ' s like being invisible while things just happen around you." He hesitated before the familiar black oaken door, startled at a recognition  in himself of the same feeling of slight resignation he had noticed in Mrs. Lerner's voice that f i r s t day. When Myra opened the door, he glanced into the  den where everything — a l l the furniture and the photographs of Saul and the  other young men -- remained unchanged, only darkened, as i f to cloak the stasis  to which common need had been reduced there, and he listened in the dimness for  the echo of Mrs. Lerner's laugh, issuing from the mouth drooping beneath can- celled eyes and arrogantly arched brows framed by uncombed grey hair, her laugh oozing down the walls to form a hard mirror-like film over the carpets the couch 82 the photographs, her laugh that long ago froze the youthful smiling faces for- ever within their gilded frames. Monroe kissed Myra and whispered. "Good luck." "Thanks" -smiling, hoarse from crying, her eyes already somewhere else. Early morning air so much more cold and raw than that f i r s t morning and the  sun like a dull spotlight over the septic water in the gorge. The mist now over  the mountains almost escapes notice. Just a deep throbbing in the head with  every leaden step: There is no silence, no silence, no silence, Only for old men. Monroe was playing Schoen Vi Di Levona at the piano in the recreation h a l l .  Music only an overspilling: f i r s t to groove with the waves of silence, then to  leave them inviolate by gathering up a l l else -- this would be enough. "Hey, man! Maintaining your cool?" Ralph entered, looking as i f he had .just  tripped in the shower, dropped himself heavily onto one of the benches near the  front of the h a l l , watched the floor like a dormant beast, and spoke out of a  cavern of sleeplessness: "I must be up tight, baby. Just can't make the scene  any more, 'less I got some of that e v i l juice in me,!" "You didn't "get a good high from that stuff last night, did you? That cock- t a i l was an H-bomb of the mind!" Ralph attempted a sickly grin, but his huge black eyes remained in orbit in  a personal psychedelic stratosphere, refusing to pinpoint their expression. He  broke the silence with, "Myra's a cute piece, ain't she, Monroe?" Monroe reddened and absently played a few bars of silent movie melodrama  music. "She's really flipped over you, Ralph. I hope you know i t . " "I know i t , man." -grinning sardonically and studying Monroe with mysterious 83 penetration. "But sometimes Myra's not very cool. Y' know? Anyway, she  wouldn't be happy sticking with me. After we cut out today, i f she doesn't  completely blow her cool, she'll forget about me in a week." To Monroe's look  of surprise, he continued: "Yeah! Almost forgot to t e l l you that Mrs. L. sack- ed both of us today -- probably on Emil's advice." "Emil?!" Monroe had to hold on to the edge of the piano to stop himself  from f a l l i n g off his stool. "Mais, certainementI I b'lieve o l ' Emil has gained a prominent place in  the boss-lady's affection by balling her regular as clock-work and f i l l i n g her  ear with tasty news of our mind-blowing researches. See, he feels -- quite  rightly, I'm sure -- that we would be unhealthy to have around while he's busy  revolutionizing the camp, getting the support of the Zionist heavies for his  Back-to-israel power thing -- Zionist work-camp scene, dig? So, in short, we  have blown the gig and i t ' s time to s p l i t , baby!" -slapping his knee and cocking,  his head matter-of-factly. Monroe closed his eyes and shivered at the spectacle of Emil's neatly carved  voodoo dolls metamorphosing to the old men wrapped up in their dark frocks,  fixing him with the Avinn Horre, pushing him inexorably closer to the deep black  pit of the lions and the fiery furnace, and mumbling through their beards, "We  play the game with you for just so long, boychik, then comes your turn too, Yisrael averim zeh bazeh. The Lord knows that we have suffered and denied our- selves, but you- You must pioneer also. You are so different? If not this  way, boychick, then what? Well, i f you have a way, show us!" "Hey, Monroe. Guess you know that i f you take that scholarship to the  music school in New York, you won't be getting away from o l ' Emil: he plans to  make i t to the same school, as soon as his restitution money comes through this  f a l l . Sorta like your shadow, huh? But that school is the right thing for  you, baby. You know: do some wood-shedding, get into your own thing." 84 "Mm-hmm....YeahI" Show you. Now we'll see. Now I ' l l show.... Anna Martinez and her gentleman, finished doing the bidding of Beforg, returned with trays of beer, cheese and bologna for the guests who f e l t i t was time for a recess from the s p i r i t s , while Ralph and Consuela beyond poetry and Spiritualism -- wrestled their clothes off behind a couch. Monroe looked about frantically and fled the saints' feast without a word to anyone. 85 CODA: Blue Book in Steel 86 Fingers and tongues of automatic passion propelled cigarette smoke out of the windows of the Salle Sappho, which Monroe recognized, without looking up from the sidewalk, by the recorded Gospel rock 'n r o l l and the aroma from the Chinese restaurant downstairs, mixed with booze and the same burnt smell he had noticed in Leila's tenement. Upstairs, through the diamond-shaped window in the door, gaping cracks in the wall plaster and s i l k kerchief manipulations by Bea (for Beatitude) , the topless go-go dancer-singer, were brokeninto spot frames by the high-powered strobe-light. Inside, "Coo-coo" Kirby, a thoroughly wired Cockney who worked as a prison guard, shuffled a two-step through the tables, i n f l i c t e d his barn-yard imitations on chicks he had invited to dance with him and repeatedly stop-ped at the musicians' table, extending his v i o l i n case hopefully to Professor, the leader, and chuckling nervously at his predictable refusal. (Coo-coo often boasted he could play seven different instruments and imitate any voice or sound made by human or animal, but unfortunately he wasn't satisfied just to monopolize the stage on amateur night.) "Hey, youl Psycho-didliaci You're late!" Professor called, as Monroe ap-proached the table. He mumbled a blanket excuse and dropped down heavily into the chair between Reg, the drummer and white-haired Negro patriarch of the band, and Aaron, who rarely stopped blowing through his Fu Manchu moustache into a squeaking saxophone mouthpiece long enough to sip milk or talk about his reeds, his key action, his range and his tone, until someone fi n a l l y got pissed off and asked him i f he took the horn to bed with him too. Professor sat with one hand on his glass of beer and the other stroking alternately his goatee and the pearl tie-pin visible in the opening of his tattered tuxedo beside a handker-chief spi l l i n g out of his chest pocket and above a bloated belly that was making 87 i t harder for him a l l the time to play his bass. As Professor downed half his drink and spread his palms in elaborate preparation to speak, Monroe recalled that he was currently running for president of the Union. "So who you sons-of-bitches gonna vote for?" Professor inquired with a burp. "Well now, P'fessor," Reg began in his musing, amiable way, "matter o fact, I figure I bin losin entirely too much sleep over that very problem. P'rhaps you could hip us to exackly what you plan to do for us i f you was elected, huh?" Monroe turned a mock scowl on Reg and steeled himself for the harangue. "Well now." Professor cleared his throat, raised himself on his seat and pushed aside his glass. "I would f i r s t urge clubowners to increase and improve their advertising, so that the music could be heard by a greater number and a better quality of clientele." -glancing contemptuously at the handful of middle-aged men, slick kids and hostesses at the bar. "See, when we're up there on the stand blowin, we're not there just to talk to ourselves; we can do that right here. We play soulful and swingin so we can get to a l l the people-" "No, no, Professor!" Monroe was shaking his head vehemently. "Soul is not where i t ' s at, man I And swing is not where i t ' s at. And I'd rather have my dues money spent on promoting concerts for cats who want to get into a new thing. Let's face i t : jazz rv". musicians have been playing the kind of music people expect to hear for too fucking long already. It's time we stop and look at where music is going, look at the world around us, and make pure sound, free individual music that's with the way things are, without bothering about chord changes and steady rhythms and funky r i f f s , and a l l the other a r t i f i c i a l conven-tions. Shit, you blow tenth-rate Horace Silver and you c a l l that soul?" As was usually the case when the discussion moved into this quandary, only Professor's uncomfortable consciousness of his own nickname stopped him from calling Monroe a punk student. 88 But Reg intoned sternly, placing his hand over his heart: "Monroe, now cut your j i v i n , boyl A l l I know i s , you gotta play i t from here" — tapping his heart — "and that's what soul i s . " Professor burped again, and Aaron removed his mouthpiece to have a drink of milk. "It's lik e - in every group, the rhythm section is a whore and the horn is a pimp," Aaron muttered dreamily, his eyes merging the strobed wall cracks with his saxaphone bell and completely overlooking Bea. "The rhythm section sets up, leaves spaces, makes advances. It smiles real pretty and rustles i t s dress and whispers, Come on lover, try me I And the horn i f he's a good horn — picks up every smile, every rustle, every whisper; he cooks i t up good and gives i t back strong and clear, and he makes those rhythm men his bloody slaves i " Reg shook his head and chuckled, "Jesus, sometimes you young cats bout scan-dalize me with your talk!" Monroe was no longer listening. Aaron's remarks had plunged him into a Blue Book revery of ads for Storyville cat-houses....one of the quetest estab- lishments in the city, where beautiful women, good wine and sweet music reign  supreme....and voodoo carvings crying Why is the jass music?and his answer Now  we'11 see Now I'11 show The horn is a_ pimp so fuck the world-"Here's your club sandwich, saxyl" While Aaron was speaking, Irma the wait-ress had moved to his side from her place behind the burner in the open, bottle-strewn kitchen beside the stage. A lesbian, like the other waitresses of the Salle Sappho, Irma was in her 30's, had close-cropped hair and wore jeans. "Irma, you queer hen, you burnt my sandwich!" "Cool i t , Aaron," Professor cautioned. "Meat's bad for you anyway. Uses up too much energy in the eating and digestion. And you are what you eat, y know. You eat right and you feel right for a performance, when you gotta use 89 a l l the emotional projection at your disposal." Irma shrugged. "Hope you starve, you buncha dead-ass finks!" She blew an unacknowledged kiss to Bea on her way back to the kitchen. Monroe got up and took a seat at the show performers' table. Georgina and E l f i n e l l a , the female impersonators, were discussing Oriental attitudes towards sex with the novelty team of Sha-boom and Sha-zam (Sha-zam a fire-eater who could do a 20-foot kerosene blast, and Sha-boom his mug-faced accompanist, who would play on his guitar a medley of torch songs like "Fever" and "Kiss of Fire" and f i n a l l y actually make the instrument talk, with enough precision to speak such phrases as "Thank you very much.... you dumb motherfuckers!") "Because the men come so fast, they have a totally different thing for sex there in the East," said Georgina, a dancing impersonator who was constantly fluttering her eyelashes and primping her brunette wig and shiny scarlet dress. "See, here a whole gang of us can jump into bed an sixty-nine and roun-the-world an suck off an eat out an gang-bang, an then booze for a b i t , an then jump back into bed an fuck aroun some more. But a Chinese couple w i l l jus kiss for a b i t , an go to bed, an he humps her an one-two-three he comes, an that's i t . " "Mmm. Sounds like a drag," sighed E l f i n e l l a , a huge Negro impersonator, a hustler, who was fond of saying, "Don't fight boys, there's plenty o me to go aroun!" and "Ah'm so-o-o cuh-loured! Ah mus be th cuh-louredes broad in the world!" "They's strange people a l l right. They can come their j o l l i e s jus dancin roun the May-pole." He yawned and caressed the f l o r a l patterns around his falsies. Bea finished her number and joined the table, twirling the gold-plated screw on her necklace (given to her by a boy-friend who had presented the gi f t with the comment, "To a good housewife youjgive pots and pans...."), and immediately 90 began to t e l l of an interview she had that afternoon with a minister who wanted ha: to perform at a psychedelic Church happening, with strobe-light and visual projections on the wall and poetry readings: "I'm t e l l i n g you, this idea really turned me on. I told him I could put to-gether a Bride-of-Christ number that would be just perfect for this kind of presentation. I would wear this bridal v e i l , see, over a diamond-studded G-string and a bra made of swans' do.wn, and I'd stand in front of the altar — pure and sweet -- waiting for the Saviour to come down out of heaven and make me. And then I'd go into the audience and do that piece I do here with the band some-times -- you know, where my body gyrates a l l over and I sing, 'Goin in-out-in-put -any-way ya want i t baby!...' And the Reverend was a good-lookin cat, so I said to him, Why don't we go over to my place and talk about i t some more. But a l l he did was sorta look down and fumble with his crucifix and say something about the bishop and that he'd be getting in touch. So maybe he didn't dig the act too much. I don't know." "Say, Torchy!" E l f i n e l l a nudged Sha-zam, a t a l l blond youth whose shy man-ner belied his years of carny and con. "How's about you n me makin the church scene? You could dress up in black satin tights and that sequinned shirt that makes a l l your muscles bulge out. 0-o-o-oh!" -swooning and pitching his voice steadily higher. "Ah would be the humble sinner, minglin with the multitude, peddlin my ass. An you would be the wrathful God, shootin your big fiery blast over the heads of the congregation exposin me. Then ah would commence to leapin aroun with a flamin dick, y e l l i n , "0 Lordy, 0 Lord! I done seen the light! 1 A-men!" Everyone broke up, and the explosion of laughter was at once a fabulous trick turned by Bea with her strobed gold-plated screw, a benediction over Shabat candles, Bon Homme bathed in the school auditorium spotlights, Haut Homme 91 lurching over the trickle of piss reflecting the flashing neon before Butter-cup's La Boheme, Leila's Voodoo Whip blossoming forth from the circle of torches in Congo Square, and the tie pin gleaming in the duck pond on the way to Rob's -- a l l filtered through the river gorge by the early-morning sunlight that danced over the oaken benches at the camp recreation hal l to concentrate on the jewelled cigarette holder that Emil drew on reflectively as he studied the script of My Fair Lady through smoked glasses, while crouched on the side of the stage before the patched olive curtains, wearing tight white slacks and a curious dark brown vest with nothing underneath i t to hide his hairy chest, and lamenting in an ironically appropriate tone of sighing and strained precision-"I must coach the brats on arm-waving, diction and the difference between  upstage and downstage. And you think you've got problems chust to be the piano-. player?" He slapped his forehead in mock despair. Monroe had just finished playing accompaniment to "The Rain in Spain" for  the f i f t h consecutive time, in a different key and a different tempo than the  other four times. Most of the kids were following instructions beautifully to- day, and one could almost be charmed by their attempts at Cockney accents and  costumes. But the husky-voiced eleven-year-old g i r l named Rosalie, who was  playing the feature role of the flower g i r l , was making trouble over the music.  Monroe had added some jazz r i f f s on transitional bars the last time around, and  Rosalie insisted that the additions were confusing her. Emil was now pacing among the kids on the stage and running his hands through  his long, dry hair. He stopped in front of petite, petulant Rosalie and uttered  a mock scream: "Confused? I'm not surprised you're confused, Rosalie dear. I'm confused I And do you know vhy, dah-link? It's because you're confusing me. 92 Vith your temperamental behaviour. You see, Rosalie? You're not only confused, you're also a very confusing l i t t l e dah-link. Ve thought you wanted to help put  on the show, but instead you're making like Maria Callas. V e i l , let me t e l l  you, Rosalie dear, Broadvay you'll never makel" Emil was making extravagant  motions with his arms. "OkayI Okay! Take ten, cast. Milk break." Monroe l i t up a cigarette, stepped out to the balcony, and wondered i f the  Sabbath Queen could be discovered lurking beneath such a diffident sun in the  ethereal cloak that hung about the rocks, or between the buxom shoulders of the  mountain, or somewhere in the columns of towering pines regimenting themselves  into i n f i n i t y . Among the trees beside the balcony, a couple of familiar figures: i t was  Emil, kneeling and holding l i t t l e Herbie (the bunk mascot — "The Gopher", The  Toothless. Wonder", "The Hyena" they called him) by the wrist and speaking earn- estly to him. Herbie, gripped by panic, began to cry and tried to escape, but  Emil wouldn't let him. "HeyI" Monroe ran down the steps and pushed Emil away. Emil leaned back on the ground and curled his lips in a gesture of childish  amazement turning to disdain for the intruder, while Herbie clutched Monroe's  arm and tried to hide behind him. "This doesn't concern you, Monroe" -- Emil'smannered tone straining to stem  a well of pain. "Now, vhy don't you chust- " "MonroeI" Monroe recognized in Herbie's voice real alarm and not the usual  pampered whining. "He wanted me to-- " "Be quiet, Herbie! Be a good boy and—r " -raising himself from the ground  with one hand and reaching for Herbie with the other, but sent back down again  by a foot in the stomach from Monroe. "Leave the kid alone, Emill" 9 3 "Listen, Monroe!" — suddenly affable, but s t i l l panting from the shock of  the kick, as he got up slowly and brushed himself off. "Stop trying to be a  big man, chust relax, and li s t e n . My interest in Herbie i s , I assure you,  purely sentimental. He reminded me of a friend of mine, a l i t t l e boy I used  to know when I was his age. I haven't had many real friends since then, God  knows. Sure, I've been around and I've got to know a lot of types. But they  didn't mean anything to me, they vere merely stepping-stones. And so, I've been  very alone in the vorld, very much in need of-- " "Get the fuck out of here, Emil, before I puke a l l over you!" Monroe had  turned his back on Emil. keeping a protective arm around Herbie. "Oh, so that's the way i t i s , eh Monroe?," he pouted furiously. "You think  you're without hang-ups , Mister Jazz-man? Baby, you're no better! Just because  you turn on and sleep around--" breaking off on a crescendo and holding hands  up before his face, as Monroe swings around with burning eyes. "Okay, okay,  Defender of Justice! I'm going." Monroe and Herbie watched his self-conscious swing of his hips and proud  carriage of his head as he walked off, and Monroe wondered why neither he nor  Herbie fel t like laughing. The laughter spread as far as the musicians' table and the bar, where Coo-coo heard i t and decided to move his anti-temperance crusade to the show table. But his squeaks and quacks were a bring-down after E l f i n e l l a , and he addressed himself obliquely to Monroe, as the potential listener who appeared to him the least hostile: "It's disgustin — a l l this. Sickenin, I mean, isn't i t guv'nor? Reminds 94 me o f the scandal up at the prison over the experimental Joy Crimes Laboratory. They wuz a l l in there I t e l l ya a l l the Sex Fiends an the Dope Queens an the Drag Maniacs they wuz runnin aroun wearin berets an dark glasses an white coats an leather gloves an sandals pullin themselves off with hydraulic French tick-lers an incandescent fur-lined pistons set to switch off automatic when they come an then catch the come in measurin attachments an smokin the e v i l weed through ten-foot-long motorized suction tubes with lectronic timers strapped over their faces to record the breathin intervals an number of drags an after-wards feedin the data into one big mother of a lectronic computer waitin t i l l their cards are processed an standin there with em quiet as mice I t e l l ya I never see such goins on in a l l my years workin at the prison then in comes the social worker with a big smile an says 'Well boys how many points did we score towards rehabilitation today?'" "Here's that pic you wanted, Coo-coo." Irma handed Coor-coo a glamour photo of Georgina, inscribed "To Coo-coo Kirby, My Barnyard Baby." Coo-coo grabbed i t with gleeful chirping and waved i t around as he paid Irma and mumbled a question. "No, Coo-coo," Irma answered like a scolding mother,"I'm afraid you can't have your picture taken with Georgina." He shrugged, waved her away, and beamed at the photograph, unconscious of Monroe's presence. Monroe leaned over and asked him in a low voice, "Would you like to meet Georgina, Coo-coo?" "Aw shut up I" Coo-coo recoiled indignantly. "I jus collect pictures o stars, ats a l l I" He fingered his beer glass and stared glumly at the photograph, his eyes suddenly without their usual gleam of madness. "You're jus a kid," he mut-tered. "What do you know anyway?' Nothin I Ats what. Kids don even blimey know what they want out o this ere l i f e . " "I know what I want, Coo-coo," Monroe asserted with enough firmness to shock 95 Coo-coo out of his rambling self-stupor to look up from the beer glass with a surprised, "Eh? Wha?" " I ' l l t e l l you what I want." Monroe was poised dimensions outside himself on a moment of perfect acid-vision c l a r i t y , conscious of the strobe-light flash-ing over his face, freezing each of the vicissitudes of his expression into Coo-coo's dark, swimming eyes, and Georgina's and Elfinella's perfume, over the beer and smoke and burnt food smells, like the incense at the saints' feast. "When I was a l i t t l e boy, I had a good friend, an orthodox rabbi named Cantor Grossman -- with the pais and black frock and yarmicah -- who gave me lessons to prepare me for my Bar-Mitzvah. And when I decided not to have my Bar-Mitzvah, I didn't care what my parents or anyone else thought -- except Cantor Grossman. Because, even though I haven't thought about him much a l l these years, I've just now realized that he taught me some of the most important things I know. He told me that people who talk about things don't really talk to each other. And he told me the meaning of Shavuoth, a Jewish holy day to celebrate God's gi f t of the Ten Commandments to Moses. He said that i f you pay your dues --study Torah for the whole evening of Shavuoth -- and then look up at the sky exactly on the stroke of midnight, the sky opens up to you and you see God and a l l his angels in heaven. And i f you look up a second too soon or a second too late, or i f you blink at the crucial instant, you miss i t . And you know, once, just after he told me, I thought i t happened, the sky opened up for me; i t happened the f i r s t time that I ever heard live jazz -- in a club just like this one. And now that I've been paying dues for awhile, I'd like that to happen again. I want the sky and the whole world to open up to me. That's what I want, Coo-coo." Coo-coo remained mesmerized by Monroe's mounting rhetoric cf desperation, un-t i l f i n a l l y he shook his head and chuckled, "I b'lieve, guv'nor, that you're really turnin me aroun, you are. Tryin to make a r'ligious man outa me or 9 6 somethin. But I can bloody nearly see what yr gettin to. Want the world to open to ya? Then, blimey, you've got to open yourself to the world, t e l l the things that're hardest to t e l l . Like these blokes -" -waving at the female im-personators and the other performers. "I have done i t myself, y know." He warmed to his subject with an air of comfortable confession that was undisturbed by Monroes regard of nervous anticipation. "Yes, indeed. I've taken a steady look at my long l i f e and preserved my experiences for the world in a book printed in steel. Yes, I said steel 1 Christ, you b'lieve enough in somethin you've written to consider i t worthy to be etched eternally in steel and you can be bloody well certain the rest o the world w i l l give i t some importance tool L i s -ten, guv'nor, d you know that throughout the whole hist'ry of mankind, no book has been esteemed enough, worshipped enough to be printed in steel — not the Holy Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or_ the Kama Sutra. But I can t e l l ya one book that's gonna be printed in steel for bloody certain — and that's the book that t e l l s the Secret of Li f e . When that Secret is discovered, you can bet your last bob people w i l l think i t ' s important enough to preserve for the future gener-ations 1..." Monroe was glad to get the Professor's signal and head for the stage f i n a l l y . He said nothing to Coo-coo. His head was throbbing with the spectre of retarded time and blown-up spatial dimensions. Already Coo-coo's fantasies were the sour karma of a previous incarnation, and the stage miraged before him absolutely demanding of some Shakespearean effusion. The Professor's voice, calling the tune, "Body and Soul", issuing brief in-structions, and counting off, "1...2...1,2,3,4-" came to Monroe as through a vast metallic hollow. He picked up his horn and blew to break through the band's tight ring of sound with a molten wail of sound-colour jags -Emil's Isla Encatada Suite: For those who don't do but simply are. For 97 those who are invisible while things just happen around them. For those who talk about things and not to each other. For those who make their h e l l in others and also their heaven. For those who must betray themselves. For those who reach for something that is not there.... "HeyI What the fuck-" muttered the Professor. "Cool i t , Monroe I You're drowning us out with that wild shit." — his voice pitched to a booming urgency. "You're blowing the gig, you dumb-ass k i d l " The office swingers on the dance-floor stopped to gape and conversation at the tables faded as a l l the people began to rise and move towards the stage. Professor moved to grab the horn out of Monroe's mouth, but Monroe turned his back for a moment of grace. A choir of horns echoed from the rafters a New Orleans street funeral hymn to Annie Christmas and Marie Leveau and a Kaddish to Rabbi Rothstein and his followers and burial vaults of steel forged in fiery furnaces shuddered from the pressure of Emil and the other ghosts drawn by a long piercing tone-The manager ran to switch on the juke-box, and the tinkling of glass at the window beside the stage and a thud on top of the piano produced an aura of s t i l l -ness about Monroe's sustained C above high C... For Cantor Grossman for Haut  Homme for Whitey For Rob For the Black Nats For Coo-coo For Emil and the faces in the water one middle-aged smiling painfully... a crash like ocean waves and lion's roar cracking the roof-beams and caving in the wall behind the stage. You pay the dues for so long and the hunger takes hold of you and you sniff so long with the nameless pangs u n t i l f i n a l l y you say fuck a l l the rules let the world happen fuck a l l that and just do_ i t _ . . . . And there is_ no other way every moment enforces t e l l i n g the things that are hardest to t e l l the betrayal of one world in order to know the other so only the moment cannot be betrayed... Monroe feeling silent could discern'Please Help Me I'm Fall-ih5' through the screaming stampede as he raised his head above the debris to look through the 98 aperture in the roof which was like an inverted pit and through the split in the wall where the caped figure of the nameless Black Nat Enforcer was retreat-ing down the alleyway minus his burden of vengeance looking out for the Man who was not merely the fuzz but every white-skinned unbelieving motherfucker and Monroe knew he couldn't stop now i f he wanted to neither of them could and death  is not to be feared... Death is only the final dues. Coo-coo, his deep wrinkles turned to rivulets of blood that glistened in the rhythm of the strobe s t i l l flashing, crawled over the smoking rubble to clutch at Monroe's shoulder, "You ain't bout to leave us now, are ya guv'nor?" he cried hoarsely. "Not without readin my book o steel. And s'posin I don pull through, then who's gonna bring my book to th bloomin world? Eh, guv'nor? Eh?" Death is only freedom, death is only laughable — i f indeed Coo-coo would die and his book of steel remain. 


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