A Sneak Preview - "Eslabon" Chapter One
Pen to paper. Ballpoint drags into fibers. Something disposable inflects something cherished. A liquid marks a solid in symbols. Tool is used to record a thought. The permanent saturates the unblemished. The internal becomes physical. The giver graces the receiver and anything I write is what I have done, am doing, and is whatever I imagine. This is Helena Labrecque's journal, starting in rainbows playing in the light of a tear-shaped prism. I am starting this here, on the first day of summer at the Summer Solstice bash in Frisco - the first official holiday for the beautiful people! Could this be more unreal?
Light dapples the sand, kissing my lips and chest, changing shapes in the shadows. My eyes are playing tricks under this quiet tee-pee, the prism spinning slow in the wind. I see a multitude of cosmic dancers, all moving in sync, the perfect space apart, playing together for an eternity. I see darkness shift and morph and now I realize that this second round of Purple Huxley is at the edge of taking effect.
My toes are tingling. The very letters I write, this W.O.R.D. is dancing with electricity as I lay it down, black and gold, with a trail of red-shift. But before the undulating currents of sweet ecstasy reach my brain, I have to explain how I got here… today...
On my way to Golden Gate Park, the crowd bottlenecked and I got stopped by the Haight Street Zealot. He wore a jaunty black linen suit just to burn a cigarette in the polychromatic love. His heavy brow dripped with sweat, paying no mind to show off growing pit stains.
“Locusts!” He snarled in the face of a young boy with a joint hanging off his lip, his spliff jumped board, I laughed so hard I might crack a wall. “More of you everyday! 500 more homeless everyday! Repent sinners! Jobs are for the worthy! It is not too late to turn!”
I tried to shimmy by, but I was seen. His tunnel vision locked on. ”Woman!” I blinked at him to get away but instead, “get back to the ironing board and DO YOUR DUTY! Spread your legs for the Holy Spirit to - !” I pushed hard into him and tripped on a furry coat in front of me, a hand pulled me up. “Glassy eyes!” He breathed over me, “You have reefer madness! Look at your face, covered in the paint of Sodom and Gomorra.”
“Shove aside man!” I shielded my face.
“The wrath of God is upon you!”
“One more reminder that it is a man’s world!” a black woman next to me yelled. I frowned and furrowed my brows.
Standing tall I bellowed “Tip-toe Goddesses!” Women all around flashed bright eyes, “It isn’t safe to show yourselves yet!” A chorus of “boos” rained down on The Zealot.
“I love you sister!” a burly guy with a headband called back at me.
“You should be lobotomized,” The Zealot blurted in stadium voice, trying to sound over the crowd, “all 80,000 of you drifters. Smash the world of fantasy in which you are submerged. Cut down the emotional child’s play and redirect into socially acceptable channels. Metrazol for all of you. Or else give gratis to who came before you!”
I wiped some spittle from my face and the black woman in front of me cried out, “Dirty evangelist! Love, nature, and beauty is where it’s at!”
“What do you do for a living?” He turned back to me.
“I am doing the biggest work in the world,” I called back “trying the new. Doing what I want.” The crowd opened up and I saw my chance.
“And your salary for that?”
“Same as you make on your soapbox!” I pushed through, his face bobbing behind me. I raised my voice and shouted, “It’s a lovelution! You are either in it or you’re old news.” I ducked around him and back into the throng, leaving him to drown.
My tummy churned at the thought of a salary. Two weeks on the road with Michael and one in the Golden City, and my pockets are light as an eyelash. And as much as I despise the Zealot, I was only just considering getting a job. But I am learning - In the new world you don’t need money to survive.
My outfit today is superb. Autumn let me remake an old red velvet dress of hers. I cut it short and opened up the blouse. My blond hair is loose and wavy, set in a ring of daisies, catching the sunshine as I walk. Autumn streaked white paint in the shape of a daisy beneath my right eye before she left for the sunrise. I was snoozing away on the couch till a stranger tried to cuddle me. More sleep, more rest would be nice, but there's so much going on. The waking life is better than anything I could dream.
Strolling down Haight, I was surrounded in balloons and bubbles that cast auras in the afternoon sunlight. People have decorated everything they own; bicycles look like space ships - one woman resembles a giant bird, all in white feathers - some man in paisley silks flipped the bird to a bus of tourists - and I am wearing my most golden smile. This city is in its’ zenith and everybody is in on it. Most of us are celebrating our liberation, and it will continue as long as people can get together and share it together.
All of the houses and apartments in the city emptied out and filled this place up with families, lovers and druggies. Passing through the gate at Stanvan Street, I meandered past the bowling green and tennis courts toward The Polo Fields. A strong wind and the eucalyptus trees muffled the music in the distance. And down a hill, through a tunnel of bushes, I stepped into a burst of sunlight where a girl was sitting alone in the lotus position.
“Is this the way to the Human Be-In?” I asked her.
She came out of her trance with beaming eyes. “I have been meditating for three hours,” she said cheerfully, “and everybody’s been going that way, so I guess that’s it!”
On the other side of the forest, passing herds of beautiful people, I came out into a meadow packed with thousands and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane singing “Somebody to Love.” Rock bands with funny names are springing up everywhere -- Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix. It’s a new age for noise.
Frisbees crossed above, dogs and children played, and painted faces greeted me everywhere. The Hare Krishna’s sung their mantras, “Jai, Jai, Hare Krishna,” and here and there was the occasional rhythm drum circle filling the air with all the sounds of humankind.
I went by an open pit where The Diggers were cooking up fish and hamburgers and a line of people were getting food for free. But no booze. None of the enlightened ones are drinking alcohol.
“Love is the only thing,” I heard a girl say in passing; “Life means nothing without it.” I slowed my stroll. “Look at the bullshit that passes for happiness in this country. Cars and houses, diplomas and credit cards, there is so much loneliness here. It is such a great feeling when you love someone. And when you don’t there’s nothing. You’re all dried up. So many people are walking around scared these days.”
“Wow,” the guy said, “that’s so true.”
She took his face in her hands. “Give me a kiss.”
The scent of pot ruled the air as I made my way toward the stage. A giant blow up ball of the world bounced off my head. As I got closer to the stage I found Mad Harry dressed like a sheik. The guy beside him was wearing the purple vestments of a priest.
“Christianity ended around 300 A.D.” he said to Mad Harry. “That is when it went commercial. Redesigned to fit the era, you know. Jesus became a bestseller!”
“It’s people who articulate that I watch out for,” Mad Harry replied, “Like ministers and salesmen and college professors. They’re the ones you’ve gotta watch out for. It’s a constantly changing reality, so whatever you think it is about is constantly changing too. That is why this movement started, you know, the hippies. You, me, and everyone here are doing what we can to make it authentic again… like OG Christ.”
“What is a hippie?” said the costume priest. ”Don’t call me that. Why don’t you talk about the people who believe in brotherly love? Why don’t you talk about those making music for free and making art and just having a good time?”
“The rock bands are making money. Do you think Jefferson Airplane wouldn’t take a check? What we are doing now is new and ‘cool,’ but it will eventually become a part of the money making machine, like everything else. So in truth, we are perpetually feeding the hierarchy. You can’t change it and you can’t escape it.”
“Maybe it’s time to find a new country. Have you heard of Finland?”
Mad Harry raised a brow, then lit up, “Helena!” He gave me his biggest squeeze. Mad Harry is the oldest I’ve met out here, twenty-four, and minor member of the Black Panthers. Scanning the entourage for a missing face I asked, “Where is Michael?”
“Heard he is wandering around with bag of goodies. The beach, last I heard, not far.” His hands encased mine, and I felt something light press into my palm. “You do what you will, straightlace,” his eyes twinkled, “but I promise you this comes direct from the Doctor. You won’t get better.”
At the word “Doctor” a short auburn haired beauty with thick black eyebrows appeared. “Autumn!” I squealed. “Oh my Goddess! I was looking everywhere for you.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me away, Mad Harry still giving me his mischievous grin, parting the masses with her groovy swing. The crowd swayed like a melting forest of color, everyone in their own tempo. The air was stifling and my lips tasted salty. And just as I reached out to part them and take in sweet air, a mouth closed onto mine.
“Let’s practice free love, baby!” All I could see was thick hair and sunglasses. I kissed him back and pulled away quick. Not now! No time! God it’s hard to navigate when the whole world is turned on.
We stopped to watch a young woman dancing on her knees with her baby with four people holding a bedspread above them. They placed the baby in the bedspread and she flew high up into the air. I was hit with a tremendous wave of contact high. Folk to my right formed a daisy chain and swayed to the music. All while the voice of Grace Slick rang out above them. Everybody was on their feet rocking to her energy. People climbed the stage, dancing and throwing their clothes into the crowd, girls sat on the shoulders of their guys to get a better view, everyone clapping and screaming. Autumn took us to the font of the stage, and with the hot bass player looking on, we dropped Huxley. No better time to try it.
If there is one thing the junkies, winos, druggies, dropouts, professional dropouts, theatre junkies, avant gardes, and even some corporate monkey’s have in common, it’s that everyone is on LSD.
The stage loomed closer than it could possibly be, and suddenly I sank into an electrick coloring book. I’m the observer, seeing the faces of friends and strangers morph into angels and demons, conduits for the multitudes with. I’m the manipulator, mobilizing objects, interacting with plants and people, touching that butterfly effect that carries conscious awareness. Hyper aware of what happens just with a thought.
Autumns eyes were dilated and her smile was a falling star, illuminating everyone around her. I was a bird, flying very high, sailing through the wind as it took me away. Over the oceans and splashing into the waves of my mind. But I wonder will the sun still watch all of us going by, will the moon still float in the sky… I coast into eternity, a ray of light. Good God, sweet color! I can see it now again cause the acid is kicking in and I am writing about the past and the moment at the same time.
Where was I…. I felt like I was flying, actually flying. We left the park at some point, I don’t recall, and I was on a trampoline in a backyard dancing in a projection of a real time kaleidoscope that played in the shade. Autumn was something of a six year old, like she hadn’t known the world before and understood it for the first time.
I met another Scorpio. He carried a homemade opium pipe and had chinese eyes. Oh no, wait, he was pretending to be Chinese! A geisha, high pitched, transgender, sent lotus flowers abloom about his face. The opium pipe floated in space before me, asking to be honored. But you don’t mix Purple Huxley with anything but Purple Huxley.
Mad Harry materialized from the sun and said that he was needed at some church down the road. The Diggers were getting together for an anti Be-In meeting and Coyote was wanting to talk about the future of the movement. Seems there’s talk of trouble. I was ready to jump on the streetcar with him, but Mad Harry said Michael wanted me down at the breakwater.
I was naked on the beach in the crush looking for Autumn. And yet even with the crowd, Michael is always visible. Handsome with his thick, dark curls and sparkling green eyes, always well dressed with a Peter Pan grin, he was entertaining a crowd of fawning women, playing out an invented character. I joined the periphery.
Looking up to the sky he declared, “Who is that following me? There is something floating up there, hovering, watching us. Is it a friend or an enemy? Mr. White Face.”
“The moon!” a girl cried.
“Father finally let me out of the dungeon,” they were captivated as he crossed the sand, theatrical and powerful. “This is a curious world we live in!” His eyes scanned the horizon like a treasure hunter searching for the next thrill until they landed on mine. “Bella Helena!” He sauntered over with all of his fans watching and kissed both my cheeks, the corner of his lips turned. “You look too dry!” He grabbed me into his arms and we rushed down into the ocean.
And as the sun sets now with the sand glistening in a billion diamonds I need to leave this journal in the past and take one more dip. My handwriting is loooopy and big, and I can’t concentrate. This is the best summer of my life…so far…and… it’s crazy… I hope I survive… I dare to go as far as it takes me