The story until now:
Don and Dan Find God
“Dan, I am afraid I cannot hold it any longer.”
“You sure, sir? There must be a McDonald’s nearby.”
“My dear boy, first of all, McDonald’s is one of the strongest links in the chain of conspiracy, extending all the way from AppleBee’s to Outback Steakhouse. They put mind-control serums in the food, making the populace more docile. And second, I am in a state of dire urethral and bladereal emergency.”
“But where does Taco Bell figure into this?”
“Just stop, Chopin!”
I pull the grey sedan to the side of the road; the tires crunch on the gravel as we slow down. Bigote has the door open before we even come to a full stop. He unbuckles his seatbelt and attempts a flying leap out of the car—a man propelled by the force of nature—and immediately tumbles and falls, hitting his face on the open door, and then rolling into a somersault and springing to his feet. His nose is bleeding profusely and a steady stream of urine, surprisingly vigorous for an old guy like him, appears in no time. I observe all this through the rear-view mirror.
“I told you about drinking all that Diet Pepsi, sir,” I say, after getting out. “It’s a killer.”
“I would appreciate if you could maintain silence while I am in this undignified state,” he replies, the stream still going strong.
“Well I guess I’ll go, too.”
I unzip my fly and search deep down for the urine I know is lurking in the depths. I push and squeeze, and feel a tension somewhere behind my navel, and scrunch it like a sponge, trying to get all the liquid out. I am a little embarrassed of my pitiful tinkle, compared to Bigote’s mighty Niagara.
We both finish.
“Are you okay, sir?” I say, looking at the read streak of blood down his shirt and face, left by his still-bleeding nose.
“Nothing to worry about, Chopin. Blood is but the stuff of the gross material body. The soul is made of finer matter, and cannot escape through the aperture of the nose.”
“Well why don’t you plug it up anyway,” I say, and hand him the tissue stuffed in my pocket.
“Once again, I am much obliged to you,” he says, and stuffs bits of the tissue up his nose.
“So, Mr. Bigote, sir,” I say, “I hate to bring this up again, but where are we headed?”
“My most ignorant and naïve companion, for the upteenth time, we are on our way to Santiago de Compostela.”
“Which is a city?”
“It is the city where the body of St. James was discovered, making it one of Christendom’s great pilgrimage sites.”
“And what’s that to us?”
“You know, your barbarous mode of speech, and persistently philistine questions, do provoke in me great feelings of pity and, at times, rage at the conspiracy which has so debauched your mind, my most benighted squire.”
Bigote has been getting a little testy lately.
“Debitched or not, I’ve been driving for a long time, man, and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.”
“Stuff and nonsense, Chopin. It is impossible to go and yet remain, as Isaac Newton proved.”
“Listen I don’t see what physics has to do with San Diego con Carne.”
“Santiago de Compostela.”
“Allow me to explain this in plain terms. St. James is the patron saint of Spain. He was a great inspiration for the reconquista and, it is said, actually appeared in battle to aide the Christian forces against the invading Muslims. As such, visiting the shrine dedicated to Santiago may have much to tell us in our quest against the Mexican-Muslim conspiracy.”
“Well, as long as I can get BJ’s and beers there, it should be fine.”
“I assure you, Chopin, they have every civilized amenity, including pyjamas.”
I walk back over to the driver’s side and tug on the door.
“Uh oh,” I say. “It’s locked. Try your side, sir.”
“It does not open, from which I deduce that it is locked.”
“Yeah…” I say, patting myself down, looking through my pockets. “Pretty sure I left the keys in the car.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“We’re locked out.”
“You imbecile!” Bigote said, pounding his fist on the car. “You dunce!”
He is an awfully judgmental guy for someone covered in dried blood, with red tissue coming out of his nostrils.
“Sorry about that, sir,” I say, trying my best to sound real sorry.
“Do you realize the extent to which you have put our entire operation in jeopardy by such a careless and routine oversight?”
“Well, can’t be that bad.”
“I beg to differ, knave, and to differ most hotly. For tow truck personnel are inevitably informants of the conspiracy. Indeed, nearly every individual involved in traffic violations or car repair is directly connected to the central database, which the conspirators use to track the whereabouts of their nemeses. They will find us out immediately, Chopin.”
“Guess we just got to break a window then,” I said.
“I suppose we do, Chopin. Would you like me to try?”
“Be my guest.”
I am pretty excited for what is coming next.
Bigote winds up his body like a spring, and delivers a massive karate chop to the passenger window. His boney hand bounces off with a loud ‘crack.’
“AAAAAHHH!” Bigote says, clutching his hand.
“Oh shit, sir, did you break anything?” I try to say this with a straight face.
“It is too early to tell the extent of the physical damage, Chopin. But it is safe to say that this glass is especially made to withstand assault. Try it with a hefty stone.”
“You got it,” I say, and pick up a loose piece of asphalt nearby. Then I chuck it right at the window from point-blank range. But my hand slips and the asphalt hits the door right below the window, bounces off and hits me in the nuts, sending me to the floor.
My world collapses like an accordion into a tight ball of breathless pain. All time and space disappear. I see the face of God, and He looks like my mom. I smell oil and stale beer and imagine that this is what everything must smell like when you’re dead. Then, I snap out of it a little, and find myself sprawled on the ground clutching my crotch.
“Owowowowow,” I say, when I can find my breath. “God damnit.”
“Chopin, are you alright?”
“Just dying over here, don’t worry about it.”
“These damn feminist, homosexual, gluten-free conspirators! You see, Chopin, they have infiltrated all the regulation agencies. In the past, automobile companies could use whatever grade of glass they pleased. In those days you could shatter a car window with a pebble. But in their mad quest to limit our blessed freedom, the socialists created regulations, stating that these windows must be resistant to kinetic assault. And now you see how clever they are? We are locked out of our own vehicle!”
“Well, technically we stole it,” I say. I have stopped hyperventilating now and I am struggling back to my feet.
“Hello, friends, do you need some help?”
My blood runs cold when I hear this voice. Who the hell is that?
“Why, who might you be?” Bigote says, all suspicious-like. I limp over to his side as quick as I can, hoping to prevent Bigote from shooting anyone. Remember, we still have those pistols from the dead drug runners.
“My name is Pierre,” a boy with a funny French accent says. “I see that you are having trouble with your automobile.”
He’s about my age, wearing a black backpack, a grey hoodie, some ragged jeans, and he’s holding a walking stick. He smiles and I can see that he has spotted yellow teeth.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, trying to sound menacing.
“I was walking along when I saw you two pull over to, uh, make water. I saw you had a bad accident,” he says to Bigote. “Are you alright?”
“I am an old warrior and am long immured to such trifling injuries, but it is very kind of you to ask.” I can tell from Bigote’s tone that he is contemplating something very stupid.
“Well, I see that you cannot get back into your car,” Pierre says.
“Would not you like me to help? I am an expert in these things, you know.”
“In breaking into cars?”
I look at Bigote, who eyes the Frenchie with a narrow gaze.
“Be my guest,” he says finally, after a long pause.
“But in return,” Pierre says, “I would very much like it if you would give me a ride.”
“If it is on our way,” Bigote says.
“Oh, it is on everybody’s way.”
And with this puzzling remark, Pierre whips his backpack around, and pulls out a coat hanger from the front pocket. Then he straightens it out into a little wire, leaving only the hooked end, and presses it against the little crease of the passenger door, and then wiggles it back and forth until, with a little jerk, it pops into the car. He angles the hanger so that it hooks the little doorlock knob, and gently pulls it out and up, unlocking the door. All this is done in less than thirty seconds.
“There you are!” he says, turning around and smiling.
“Very kind of you,” Bigote says, and whips out the semi-automatic pistol from his belt. But the gun flies out of his hand, dropping down on the asphalt road with a thud, going off in the process with a horrible Bang! Before I even have time to react Bigote swoops down and picks up the gun in his left hand.
“Jesus Christ, Fuck!” I say. “What the fuck was that, man?”
“Are you hit, Chopin?”
“No, man, but why did you throw the gun like that? Are you nuts?”
“It’s my right hand, Chopin. I cannot grip anything. I think I broke my fingers from trying to smash the window.”
“Oh, great. Well did you kill Jacques?”
“It’s Pierre…” he says. He threw himself on the ground when he saw the gun, and is now getting back to his feet. “And I am unharmed.”
“Get back on your feet you conspiratorial scum, and die like a man,” Bigote says. “Now, say your prayers—to Muhammad, Hillary Clinton, El Chapo, or whatever other devils you dogs pray to.”
“What is this?” Pierre says, standing and throwing his hands up. “Why are you doing this?”
“Oh, an obliging French vagrant just happened to be strolling by when our car broke down? Very convenient,” Bigote says.
“Woah, woah, woah, woah,” I say, putting a hand gently on Bigote’s arm. “Let’s not jump to conclusions, sir.”
“Chopin, I admire your impulse towards mercy, but we have everything to lose and little to gain by letting this man live. He may be innocent, but he may very well be an agent sent here for the very purpose of sabotaging us, ensnaring us in his cleverly-woven net.”
“But sir, there must be a way to tell if somebody is a genuine member of the conspiracy.”
“Well, do you have some aluminum foil and a cup of water?”
“Then we must resort to circumstantial evidence. Search his backpack, Chopin.”
“Yes, sir. Hand it here, Jacques.”
“Shut up, Napoleon.”
Pierre nervously hands the bag over, and then sticks his hands back in the air. I open up the outside pocket.
“Cigarettes, a map of Portugal, five loose condoms, insect repellent, a harmonica, and a pickle.”
“Hmmmm,” Bigote says. “Go on.”
I open the main chamber.
“A bottle of Jack Daniels, a little tin can filled with weed…”
“I see. Proceed.”
“Seven purple radishes, some sliced jalapeños, a partially eaten bag of cheetos, a frying pan, a package of bacon, a compass, three packs of cigarettes, a fork and knife, a flashlight, a plastic bag full of mushrooms, and a… a pornographic magazine.”
“And his pockets?”
Pierre scrounges in his pockets and gives me two big handfuls.
“Some gum, lots of coins, guitar picks, toothpicks, a wallet.”
“Any I.D.?” Bigote barks
“Yes, it’s in French but it says Pierre Lacrosse.”
“An entire head of garlic, some packets of salt and ketchup from McDonald’s, a few batteries, and some little blue pills, which I believe are ecstasy.”
“That is correct,” Pierre says.
“I see,” Bigote says. “Well, I think the evidence is strongly in favor of his innocence.” Bigote clicks the safety on and holsters the pistol.
“Oh, mon dieu,” Pierre says.
“How did you come to that conclusion, sir?”
“Elementary, my dear Chopin. He had a harmonica, and music is forbidden in Islam; he had bacon, a pork product; and he had alcohol, another violation of the tenets of that nefarious creed.”
“Couldn’t he have been fooling us?” I say, just to figure out how this guy’s mind works.
“He may, indeed, Chopin. I see you are learning their trickery. But the presence of a pornographic magazine cleared up any doubts. For the human body is veiled in Islam; and, besides, feminists cannot abide pornography, since it shows attractive women; and, on top of that, the gays condemn all heterosexual attraction as too ‘natural’; and, finally, vegans consider sex to be an act of animal consumption. So it is very unlikely that the conspiracy would use pornography, even for the purposes of trickery.”
“But I thought all those guys were in favor of porn, right? Like, isn’t it the rightwing people who don’t like porn?”
“Ah, now you see the brilliance of the conspiracy, Chopin. The conspiracy publicly supports porn for its degrading moral effect, but refuses to partake of it themselves. They are dastardly, and will not hesitate to bend their morality to suit their needs.”
“Boy, you sure are smart, sir,” I say. “Excuse my boss,” I then say to Pierre, in a whisper. “He’s just a little paranoid about terrorism.”
“I understand,” he says. “One can never be too careful. So, can I get that ride?”
“Of course!” Bigote says, “and please excuse me for being such an ungrateful host.” And we all pile into the car.
“So, uh, do you know where you’re going?” I say to Pierre.
“Yes, it is only a few kilometers up this road. I will tell you when to stop.”
We drive on without conversation for fifteen minutes or so. I can see Bigote out of the corner of my eye. He is twisting his head this way and that, scanning the surroundings like an alert bird. His mustache has—if this is even possible—grown still more bushy during our time on the run, and now seems to extend outward in all directions like a bramble. Pierre, meanwhile, sits in the back, whistling “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye. Seems like a chill dude.
“Stop! Stop! Here it is!” Pierre says suddenly.
“You sure, man?” I say.
I pull over to the side and we slow to a stop. I look around and see nothing, not a building, a sign, nor a driveway.
“Where are you even going?” I ask him.
“Into the forest.”
“Are you on a hiking trip?”
“Oh, no, I’m going to an ayahuasca ceremony.”
“Ayahuasca?” Bigote asks.
“Oh, sir, I think this is a wonderful opportunity!” I say, thinking fast. “Ayahuasca is a powerful tool that may help us in our fight against the conspiracy!”
I’ve always wanted to try it.
“Indeed?” Bigote says, stroking his stache.
“Oh yes,” Pierre says. “Ayahuasca can change the world.”
“Then let us go!”
“Tell me again what this ‘ayahuasca’ substance is, Chopin. I am having difficulty following your explanation.”
We are stumbling through the forest on a vaguely marked trail, following the Frenchie at a distance of a few dozen feet. He seems to know where he’s going. I am a little worried that he’s leading us into a trap or something; but both of us are packing pistols—not that I know how to shoot mine—so I am not too worried. At the very least I am taking this baguette-eating euro-hippie down with me.
“Well, sir,” I say to Bigote, trying to sound all knowledgeable-like, “the thing is, nobody really knows what ayahuasca is. The recipe was discovered by the Aztecs, but the secret was lost after all of them died, from rape and pillage and stuff like that. But it’s like this substance that lets you see reality with, like, super vision. I mean that you know all this stuff you didn’t know before. Like magic.”
“If I am following your explanation correctly, Chopin, this is a potent substance developed by the pre-Columbian inhabitants of Mexico?”
“And they used it in their rituals in order to gain a higher experience of reality?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“And somehow this recipe has been recovered?”
“You see, some people escaped into the forest and kept making the stuff, even after most of their friends and family died from the rape and pillage, and nowadays people pay to be part of ceremonies where they drink some of it and go through the whole deal.”
Bigote stops dead in his tracks.
“This is brilliant, Chopin!” Bigote says, throwing his hands up in the air. “Brilliant! This is the missing piece of the puzzle!”
“The puzzle, sir?”
“Don’t you see, Chopin? This is how the Muslims and the Mexicans communicated back in the time before Columbus crossed the ocean, allowing them to coordinate their nefarious plans before Western civilization even got started off the ground.”
“Hold up a second, sir. Are you saying that the Mexicans and the Muslims were plotting all the way back then? That’s just crazy, dude.”
“It may seem insane, Chopin, but I assure you this conspiracy reaches back into the furthest depths of time. Now, admittedly it was mysterious how the Aztecs and the Muslims coordinated in the Dark Ages. But what you tell me is true, Chopin, and this drug does give you a different experience of reality, it is possible that Mexicans and Muslims could attune their minds by taking the drug simultaneously, on different parts of the globe, and thus coordinate their thoughts. Or perhaps the Muslims smoked hashish… ”
“Yes, it is a bone-chilling thought. Nevertheless, we must suppose some sort of supernatural mode of communication in order to explain the otherwise extraordinary extent of coordination between these two apparently separated cultures. But is it really so surprising? Can it really have been a coincidence that the Aztec and the Muslim empires thrived at the same moment in history? Can it be pure chance that they both subsided in power—or, to be more accurate, appeared to subside in power—as the star of Europe was rising? No, all of this is too much to be believed. What is more, can anyone honestly believe the stories of these Spanish conquistadores easily conquering whole empires with a handful of men? It’s preposterous! The whole thing has been planned from the beginning, Chopin, and in the utmost detail. Both cultures agreed to feign a decline and fall, allowing the Europeans to think that they were the dominant force, all the while plotting how to take over and destroy Western culture, while harvesting its fruits for themselves.”
I sort of spaced out halfway through this, since even for Bigote this was a big conspiratorial wad to blow. And in any case I quickly learned that if you just say “Wow!” at appropriate intervals, he is totally satisfied… I guess a lot of married-couple sex works in the same way. This is why I never want to get tied down to one girl. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t some nice, smart, attractive girls in the world. But for a whole life? Give me a break. Like, variety is the spice of life, baby. Same with friends—with family, too, now that I think about it. Got to change things up every now and then or it all gets so stale and boring, amiright? I love hot dogs, but I don’t want to eat nothing but hot dogs forever and for all time. Same thing with everything and everyone else.
I’ll hand it to Bigote, though. He drones on like nobody else, but he still manages to surprise me pretty often. He’s a special dude.
“We’re here!” Pierre says, as he holds the branches of a little bush open, as if parting the curtains. “Isn’t it lovely?”
Bigote and I catch up and peer through the brush. The ‘retreat’ isn’t a whole lot to look at. There are five smallish cabins, made of wood, all arranged around what looks like a fire pit. Some logs are on the ground, for benches I guess, and empty beer bottles and plastic bags and other trash is spread around. Looks a lot like where went to after prom, some dank place called Stone Beach, though this is a lot cleaner. Might be fun.
“Where are all the inhabitants?” Bigote says.
“Oh, they must be off on a meditation walk in the forest. Let’s go find a spot.”
We follow Pierre into one of the cabins. It’s dark inside—no lights, no lamps, and just a little window on the far end. It seems like Pierre’s been here before, since he reaches for a flashlight hanging on the wall. As he illuminates the cabin I see about five or six double-decker bunk beds. A few of them are covered in stuff—old clothes hanging off the railings, backpacks, socks and underwear and things everywhere, with some empty wine bottles and beer cans lying around.
“You guys can stay here,” Pierre says, gesturing to an empty bunk bed.
“We are much obliged,” Bigote says.
“Do you want to be on top or on bottom?” I say to Bigote.
“As a seeker of wisdom I always prefer to have the higher vantage point, from which I can take in my surroundings.”
“You sound upset, my good assistant.”
“Oh, no, I’m fine. It’s just I usually like the top.”
“An admirable impulse, Chopin, but I am afraid that your subordinate position dooms you to an inferior level of the bed.”
“But are you really the boss if you haven’t paid me yet?”
“Everything in good time, my good assistant. Have no fear, your money will come. Yet we have more pressing matters to attend to than mere fiduciary concerns. For example, my hand requires some medical attention.”
“Allow me,” Pierre says, and comes over and shines his flashlight on Bigote’s outstretched hand. It’s real ugly: His fingers are all bent and crooked and his hand is as red and swollen as a tomato.
“You really messed yourself up, man,” I say.
“Yes, I appear to have done so,” Bigote replies. “It is well that my hand has gone numb, or else the pain would be very intense. I believe I am in shock.”
“If you allow me,” Pierre says, “I can help with this.”
“What, you’re both a doctor and a car thief?” I say.
“I have some practice with both,” Pierre says. “Will you follow me?” He leads us outside and then to another cabin, where Pierre quickly locates a first-aid kit. “Wait here,” he says, goes away, and comes right back holding some little popsicle sticks.
“Let us go outside into the light so I can help you.”
We sit down on some logs that are serving as benches outside a big fire pit, full of black ashes. Pierre gets down to work, using the kindling boards as splints, one for each finger, and then wrapping the whole thing in gauze. It looks like he’s done this kind of thing before, not that I’d really know.
“So,” Bigote says, as Pierre is working. “Tell me about yourself Pierre. What brings a young Frenchman into these parts?”
“Ah, this is a long story, monsieur.”
“I do not think we are pressed for time.”
“Ok, I will tell you, since you very kindly did not kill me before.
“I am from a little town near Bordeaux, out in the countryside. I grew up on a farm along with three sisters. My mother died when we were very young, so we only had our father to take care of us. It was a simple life, a hard life. I had to wake up before dawn every morning to milk the cows. And that was not all. Since I was the only boy, he had me do everything—sowing, planting, harvesting, and all of this agricultural business. For a long time I did this and I was content.”
“The farming life is one of the most honorable and necessary professions,” Bigote says, and then winces as Pierre tightens a bandage.
“It is, for those who are made for it. But my mother was not from a farming family. She taught my eldest sister, Claudine, to read when she was young, and then Claudine taught the rest of us. Father never gave us money for books, never had any to give. But mother had left her little library in a cupboard. Father never touched them, and he told us we should not waste our time, but gradually I grew interested. I would read at night, before bed, though normally I was so tired I fell asleep after five minutes.”
“This is an inspiring story of autodidacticism! Literature can truly open our minds to new worlds!” Bigote was red in the face from pain now.
“You are right. This is what happened. I started reading a book called The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and it changed everything. It opened my eyes. I realized that I was living a shallow life of conformity, working for distant capitalist masters, and that I wanted to experience new things, to really live my life for myself.”
“So what did you do?” I say.
“Well, the first thing I did was I tried to find plants I could smoke on our farm. I used my Father’s old wooden pipe and tried many different species. The corn did not work. The bean sprouts could not catch on fire. The hay burned but did nothing. Finally I found a weed growing next to the house that made me see naked women whenever I closed my eyes, and I heard voices of cats and coyotes if I cupped my ears. Naturally I began smoking it very often. But my Father caught me. He said, ‘What are you doing, Pierre, my son? This is bad for your health. Please stop.’ But I told him, no, that I was expanding my consciousness.
“He left me alone for a while after that, hoping I would stop. But I had no intention of stopping. I found another plant that, when you smoke it, you feel 100 feet tall and your mouth tastes like bee stings. I started smoking that, and soon I had given up on all that dreadful farm work. But my Father, he is very narrow-minded, very much of the old world. So he took his pipe when I was passed out in the barn, and hid it from me. I guessed it was him immediately, so when I woke up I went to him, and said, ‘Hey, old man. Give me my pipe. I’m expanding my consciousness.’
“He said, ‘My son. Look at yourself. You are becoming an addict. Why are you doing this? I love you, son, and I want life to be like the old days.’ But I just laughed at this old-fashioned nonsense, and said, ‘Dad, enough of this trash. Give me the pipe.’ But he refused. So I decided to do something really daring, really crazy, really beyond the norm, and I pushed him. I pushed him right down the stairs and he broke his hip. My sisters began screaming, cursing at me. That’s when I knew they were too conventional for me. They took the old man to the hospital, and while they were gone I packed up and left.”
“Woaaah, dude,” I say.
“Well,” Bigote says, hesitating, “I suppose your father could have been a member of the conspiracy…”
“I do not know about that,” Pierre says, “but I have been living on the road ever since, expanding my consciousness beyond all the bounds of convention. That is why I am here.”
I consider whispering to Bigote that we should skedaddle, but just then a tremendous racket pierces through the dusk. We all look over.
Coming through the forest is a parade of people—shrieking, wailing, bawling, laughing, yodeling, and in general making a big racket. There must be around 20-25. Most of them are relatively young. They are all half dressed. Even the women are topless; but I can’t say I’m really interested, partially from the fear, but also because they all have this kind of wild hippie look to them. You know, knotty hair and dirty skin. They aren’t the bathing type is what I mean. At their head is this middle-aged guy with a kind of feather headdress on, blowing a horn.
“Didn’t you say they were meditating?” I say to Pierre.
“Yes, it’s called primitive howling meditation. It’s one of Dr. Krajakat’s patented methods.”
“Hey, is that Pierre?” the headdress man says as he approaches.
“Oh, Pierre!” he says, hugging him. He has a thick Russian accent. “I’m so glad you could make it! And who are your friends?”
“Oh, this is Dan, and this is Don Bigote,” he says. “They almost killed me earlier.”
“Splendid!” the doctor says, looking at us.
“We have come to seek your wisdom and to test out this ancient technique of, uh…”
“Yes, the ancient technique of ayahuasca, in order to better understand the world we are living in,” Bigote says.
“Well, that is splendid, just splendid! You have come to the right place! In fact, we are just about to begin the ceremony!”
It’s night now. Everyone is sitting in a big circles around a bonfire. There’s a big metal cauldron on the fire that the doctor has been fussing with.
I feel bad vibes, I gotta admit. The people give me bad vibes. They are all crazy-eyed and they look like they’re the kinda people who have orgies—and not the fun kind with a bunch of hot women, but like sweaty, grimy orgies with pudgy guys involved. Also, this Doctor Crackerjack guy is always smiling, and not in a nice-to-see-you way, but in a I’ve-done-too-many-drugs way, where there’s like a crazy edge do it, you know? Like a couple more rides on the merry-go-round will send him tumbling into another dimension. Maybe it’s just me, but the vibes are there, man.
I’m sitting on a log next to Bigote, who has been oddly silent and grave. Everyone is pretty silent, really. They’re all just watching this doctor guy with his caldron. It’s like a cult, man. People are so nutty. Drugs exist just to have fun: trip out with your friends, or dance maniacally all night to electronic music. But people turn everything into a creepy religion thing. Maybe ayahuasca isn’t as cool as I thought it would be.
Finally it’s time to start. Tin cups are passed around. Then the Doctor picks up the cauldron (it’s not that big) and starts going around solemnly filling up each person’s cup. Jeez, I hope this isn’t a poison Kool-Aid situation. He pours my cup, then Bigote’s. I look down at it. It’s a murky, greenish, brownish liquid. Actually, it looks pretty familiar… Yes, it looks just like that stuff Bigote gave me on the beach that made me shit my insides out!
I look over at Bigote. He’s smiling. “It’s an ingenious concoction, don’t you think?”
That’s it. There’s no way I’m drinking this.
“Before we begin,” the doctor says gravely, after everyone is served, “I want to address some words to the people who are doing this for the first time.” He looks at us. “This is not like mushrooms or LSD. You are not merely going to hallucinate. You are not going to dream, or have a trip. You are going to be visited by Mother Ayahuasca. Now, I am not going to comment on whether this goddess is real or not, but she undoubtedly exists, and she exists to help us, her children, find peace, find happiness, and find the truth. Do not fight this process. Do not push away Mother Ayahuasca. Let her inside your heart, and she will heal you.”
Then he raises his own cup: “To her!” And everyone downs the drug. Everyone, that is, except me. I quietly poured mine into the pushes behind me.
A few minutes go by in silence. Not much happens. I’m expecting everyone to start gagging and keel over. But no, apparently it’s not cyanide. Then, about five minutes in, that’s when the moaning starts. Everyone starts to like groan and mumble, like how people do when they’re asleep and having a dream. This gets gradually louder until people start making all these weird ape-like hoots and a sort of howling sound. Meanwhile, Bigote hasn’t said a word.
Then suddenly someone stands up and shouts: “I am the king of France and you are all my subjects!”
And another: “I am emperor of all the world and I order you to make me a pyramid!”
A girl this time: “I am a living god and I demand a sacrifice!”
And then everyone gets up—except Bigote—and starts saying all this stuff. Here’s the gist of it:
“I am a devil’s child! I can breath in the sun and spit out the moon! I can fly up three million miles and back in the blink of an eye, ladies and gentlemen, and I can kick the earth off its orbit with one toe. When I’m hungry I eat asteroids and when I’m thirsty I drink the rings of saturn! Do not look at me with your naked eyes, or you will go blind. My voice is loud enough to melt brains and beautiful enough to melt hearts! My heart is a black hole and my bowels are a cosmic nebula! I am the one responsible for night and day, winter and summer, storm and snow! I rule over the boundless expanse of the universe, dictating what planets will support life, what life will go extinct, and what stars will explode. Destroying civilizations is my hobby! Yes, yes, look at me for I am the great omnipotent force that is the basis of all reality!”
This is a summary of the kind of stuff everyone started to say. I guess they really had killed their egos.
During all this, Bigote still hasn’t said anything. He’s just sitting here, staring out into space, totally silent. I’m starting to get a little worried…
“Sir?” I say. “How are you feeling?”
“I can see it now,” Bigote says, slowly and in a deep voice, like he’s hypnotized. “I can see the secret to everything.”
“The secret to everything? What is it?”
“Everything… is… opposite…” he says, and then falls backwards off the log like a stone—dead asleep.