Hideous stops by Gordon’s house around nine o’clock to pick him up for the party at Jimmy’s uncle’s house. Skip, D.H., and Twinker are already out in the truck. Gordon has honored Derek’s Halloween wish by transforming himself into a red-furred werewolf wearing striped pants, a skinny tie, and a mod black velvet jacket from London that he picked up for ten dollars at a Fresno flea market. His hair is perfect.
Skip steps out of the truck wearing freakishly tall Flagg Brother platform boots. He greets Gordon as a drunken Frankenstein—misshapen green brow, bolts through his neck, and a bottle of Jägermeister clenched in his veiny fist. He pours a shot directly into Gordon’s upturned mouth with an encouraging grunt, then climbs back into the cab next to Twinker, who has made herself up as Frankenstein’s bride. She’s wrapped in yards of white taffeta and her hair is teased into a huge beehive with white poster paint lightning bolts running up the sides. Gordon finds it a tight squeeze getting in because D.H. is swathed in an enormous raccoon fur coat that’s taking up all the free space.
“Slap me five, you jiveass pussy hound…” D.H. says in pimp-speak from under the wide brim of a purple fake-fur fedora sporting a long peacock feather. “We be gettin’ muthafuckin’ down tonight, bro. My hot-ass bitches be garglin’ your werewolf jism.”
“Sounds great,” says Gordon. “The dog in me wouldn’t mind a little Deep Throat action tonight.”
“The concept of chivalry is lost on you two…” chides Twinker, pretending to be offended. “No wonder you don’t have girlfriends.”
“Hey, I was just alluding to Woodward and Bernstein’s confidential Watergate source,” Gordon protests. “Tonight at dinner I was talking to my grandmother about conspiracy theories and thinking how great it’d be to get the real scoop from a highly-placed insider.”
“Right!” says D.H., feigning outrage. “And I was just reciting the lyrics from a well-known Barry White song about, um… werewolf jism.”
“You’re both so fuckin’ classy,” Skip grumbles, putting his arm around Twinker.
“Ooh! Sorry if we’ve offended your delicate sensibilities there, Skipperella.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re above such crude talk now that you’re making sweet love to our lady friend, Twinker,” D.H. puts in. “You weren’t so damn snooty when you were hosing your mom.”
“Hey, I resent that!” Skip says. But even Twinker is laughing.
“Lotta women cum this time, yeah?” Hideous asks of no one in particular as he starts up the truck. Hideous is apparently going to the party as himself, only more so. His hair is spiked even higher than usual and he’s sporting three new silver rings pierced through his right brow—one of them oozing blood.
“Jim said to expect a full house. He’s got a keg of Bass Ale and about five gallons of Jamaican rum out there waiting for us,” says Skip. “Oh shit! That reminds me… we have to stop and get pineapples.”
After making a quick detour at the grocery store, they drive out to the Kings River Golf Course, where Uncle Lloyd’s estate sits at the end of the 9th hole. The golf course is where all the fabulously rich people in Kingsburg tend to build their houses, and Lloyd’s house is by far the most fabulous one of them all.
In the light of a full moon and the double row of Tiki torches in the front drive, Lloyd’s mansion looks like one of the Great Lodges built by rich industrialists and robber barons on the lakes of upstate New York. It’s all weathered cedar shingles and exposed log beams with a grand river rock entranceway and at least three rock chimneys climbing high into the starry sky. From the ivy-cloaked top floor, tall leaded glass windows cast a warm amber glow across the tennis court on the estate’s eastern side, where a group of underage zombies, princesses, and astronauts have already gathered to chug beer and slurp slushy piña coladas.
“Ahoy, mateys!” Jimmy shouts, swinging on the carved mahogany art-nouveau front door. He’s dressed as a one-eyed pirate, waving a cutlass around inside the stone foyer as if he’s slashing at invisible marauders. An electronic organ solo booms, burbles, and chirps from the lamp-lit living room behind him.
“What is this shit?” D.H. asks, referring to the music. “It sounds like Lawrence Welk trying to get funky.”
“It’s a group called Mannheim Steamroller,” Jimmy says. “My uncle’s got one of those new compact disc players, but he doesn’t have that many CDs yet. This is one of the only ones.”
“Well, it sucks,” D.H. says. With a dismissive shrug of raccoon fur, he sweeps past Jimmy into the vast living room, taking no notice of the open-beam ceiling and the antique Stickley furniture. He heads straight to the stereo system. Tall Klipsch speakers are built into bird’s-eye maple bookcases flanking a 400-watt Onkyo receiver, a Bang & Olufsen linear-tracking turntable, and a high-end Nakamichi cassette deck—along with the coveted compact disc player from Sony, which isn’t even supposed to be available in the U.S. until spring. “Where did your uncle get this?” D.H. asks, pushing the Sony’s Eject button. The music cuts out at once.
“Lloyd had it shipped direct to him from Japan.” Jimmy says. “He’s got all kinds of weird connections from his insurance business. It’s like the Mafia, almost.”
“Did you bring any of your own music?” Gordon asks him, surveying Lloyd’s extensive collection of jazz albums.
“How ‘bout some Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo!” Jimmy crouches and plays air guitar on his cutlass, grimacing like a diarrheic rhinoceros. It’s apparent to everyone that he’s already drunk.
“Ted Nugent was lame before we even started high school,” D.H. says. “We need some real music to get this party started. Lucky for you, I brought along a mix tape.” He pulls a 90-minute Maxell cassette from his coat pocket and slides it into the Nakamichi deck. Nobody argues with him. D.H. has a knack for finding obscure songs that have a way of making his friends feel weirdly empowered—even heroic—just by listening to them.
The first tune is already familiar to everyone—a Talking Heads song called “Memories Can’t Wait” off the Fear of Music album. Lately, D.H. has been getting into the sort of jangly, propulsive music that has been labeled New Wave since about 1976. Gordon picks up the empty cassette box to take a look at the complete song list scrawled on the back in D.H.’s tiny, spidery script:
“I know…” says D.H., “but my new favorite album right now is Magazine’s Secondhand Daylight. It’s got this great cover photo of a burnt-up human head on a pike against an institutional green background. And the songs are amazing—really dark and cynical. One reviewer even said something like, ‘Magazine is the band Albert Camus would’ve been in if Camus had had a band.’”
“Sounds awesome,” says Jimmy. “Who the fuck is Albert Camus?”
It takes Gordon and D.H. a while to hip Jimmy to Albert Camus and his partner in existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre. By the time they’ve finished, nine beers and three piña coladas have been drunk between the three of them and the huge Klipsch speakers are resounding with the icy, majestic synthesizers of Magazine’s “Permafrost.” A collective chill runs up their spines as the band’s lead singer, Howard Devoto, hauntingly intones:
As the day stops dead
At the place where we’re lost
I will drug you and fuck you
On the permafrost.
“You’re right,” Gordon says to D.H., “this is a great, great song.”
“It’s perfect music for a first date,” says D.H., bobbing his head in time with the bouncy, submarine-deep bass line. “It also goes over really swell at bar mitzvahs.”
“It makes me think that Sartre guy was right when he said, ‘Hell is other people,’” says Jimmy, trying to show off some of his newly acquired knowledge. He holds up an index finger, as if calling for a time out, then turns and casually projectile vomits into a Tang Dynasty vase decorated with a faint carving of peonies. After wiping his mouth on his poofy white pirate sleeve, Jimmy turns right around and brays, “Let’s all sing!” He waves his arms about like a sloshed opera conductor as the chorus comes around again. “Everybody now! ‘As the day stops dead….’”
And that’s how his Uncle Lloyd finds them, coming home early from his business trip. Beet-cheeked, squinty-eyed, morbidly obese, Lloyd walks in through his front door carrying a rumpled suit bag over his shoulder and in his right hand, a brushed aluminum Halliburton suitcase. He sets the suitcase in the entryway as he looks into his living room and sees at least two-dozen shit-faced teens standing around singing a song about date rape in Antarctica. Rather than getting indignant, as any normal adult might, Lloyd just waves to Jimmy from across the crowded room and calls out:
“Hey there, pal, did you remember to water my frickin’ aspidistra?”
“Uncle Lloyd!” Jimmy shouts with uninhibited glee.
“When I drove up I saw Frankenstein and his bride screwing like wild dogs on the roof of my chalet,” Lloyd smirks.
“That’d be Skip and Twinker,” Jimmy says. “They’re goddamn animals. I’ll go outside and turn the hose on ‘em, if you want.”
“That would violate my personal ethos. I refuse to get my nuts in a twist over a case of youthful lust. I actually find it invigorating. So let ‘em hump!”
“Did you hear that everybody?” Jimmy announces to the room. “Lloyd says it’s okay to go up on his roof and fuck.”
A collective cheer goes up from the alpha-males in the group, but not one of the girls shows a similar enthusiasm.
“So James…” Lloyd says, moving through the crowd, “before this orgy you’re promoting gets underway, why don’t you introduce me to your friends?”
“Um, sure…” Jimmy discreetly positions himself between his uncle and the vomit-filled Tang Dynasty vase. Patting a nearby swath of raccoon fur, he says, “This is my buddy, D.H.; D.H., meet my Uncle Lloyd.”
D.H. doffs his purple pimp hat and takes a stage actor’s bow with it held across his chest. Lloyd asks, “And what does the D.H. stand for?”
“Doctor of Hemorrhoids,” D.H. says, improvising on the spot.
“Deboned Homunculus,” Gordon contributes.
“That’s Hideous over there on the couch,” Jimmy says. From the couch, Hideous nods his spiky head. The air around him is humid with recent farts—the gastric aftermath of a protein shake loaded with B-vitamins that he rashly drank after kung-fu class.
“Hideous. How apt…” Lloyd mummers. Touching his own eyebrow, he says, “You’re bleeding a bit there, son.”
“I know… but I not get bwud on sofa,” Hideous assures him. “You pwace is so awesome! I enjoy to be inside it vewy much.”
“And this guy here,” says Jimmy, not bothering to translate, “is my good friend, Crash.”
“Now Crash I’ve heard of,” Lloyd says, looking Gordon up and down. “I assume that moniker wasn’t bestowed on you at birth.”
“Hell no,” Gordon says, feeling a tad belligerent.
“His real name is Gordon. We just call him Crash because he crashes into stuff a lot.”
“He suffers from narcolepsy,” D.H. says, affecting a clinical demeanor.
“Oh? Is that just the quack opinion of a Doctor of Hemorrhoids, or does it have some basis in medical fact?”
“I’ll have you know, sir, I’m no quack.”
“Actually,” Jimmy says, “we started calling him Crash after he crashed Hideous’s truck into a bunch of cheap-ass Mexican garden trolls and a highly-valuable black velvet painting of a Siberian Tiger.”
“Okay, now this I have to hear….”
So Jimmy tells the story, with Gordon and D.H. filling in details:
Late last spring, Hideous had been driving Gordon, Skip, D.H., and Jimmy back from a day of ditching school up in the mountains near Dinkey Creek. Hideous was sober, as usual, and oddly, so was Gordon, owing to a particularly vicious hangover from the previous weekend that had caused him swear off alcohol for a while. Everyone else had been drinking beer and smoking pot all afternoon. Gordon and D.H. sat in back of the truck enjoying the rush of pollinated wind while Jimmy and Skip, up in the cab, decided to smoke one last joint to smooth the ride home. Hideous objected, but was overruled, and the cab soon filled with potent marijuana smoke. Twenty minutes later, Hideous was incapacitated by a contact high—his first.
Hideous pulled over, saying he could no longer steer. Giggling like a schoolgirl and demanding Oreo cookies, he flung open the driver’s side door and ran mincingly into the foxtails on the side of the road. When Jimmy and Skip tried to wrestle him back into the truck, Hideous held them off with mocking kung fu moves accompanied by Bruce Lee-style battle squawks. They were at a stalemate. No one was fit to drive. But then Jimmy suggested that Gordon take the wheel. As the only sober person, it was his duty, Jimmy explained, and narcolepsy was no excuse. Everyone promised not to excite him. Hideous thought this was a fine idea—hilarious in its way. He clambered over the side of the truck into the pick-up bed and promptly fell asleep.
So Gordon found himself driving for the first time in his life. Jimmy and Skip sat in the cab with him, peppering him with instructions. Hideous’s truck had an automatic transmission, so there wasn’t much to it, actually. Gordon was a bit nervous at first, but after he got the truck up to speed he started to enjoy the sensation of being in the driver’s seat, piloting a large vehicle along an endless stretch of asphalt. Few other cars or trucks shared the road with them. Jimmy tuned in Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” on a distant radio station and turned it up. They were just cruising along feeling euphoric. The whole world seemed a place of infinite goodness. But then, as they approached the junction where Highway 168 turned into North Academy Road, a shiny red eighteen-wheeler blasted its air horn as it was passing them on the left. The sudden noise in the turbulent wake of the mighty truck’s passage so shocked Gordon that he dropped into an instant narcoleptic paralysis. Jimmy and Skip—lulled by pot and the long miles Gordon had already driven without incident—didn’t realize what had happened until Hideous’s truck drifted off the road, bounced over a small ditch, and then started heading toward the open-air Mexican garden statue market set up in a gravel field to the left of where the two roads met.
Hideous’s truck was still traveling at about thirty miles an hour when it hit the first plaster gnome. Jimmy had tried wresting the steering wheel from Gordon’s sleepy grip, but by then it was too late. They plowed over the bearded gnome in his hooded red parka, sending him clattering beneath the truck’s transmission, where he shattered to pieces. Then the truck’s chrome push-guard knocked over a four-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus. The baby Jesus flew out of Mary’s arms on impact. Hideous’s B.F. Goodrich All-Terrain Radials rolled right over him, crunching Jesus’s plaster skull like an egg. After that it was a massacre: froggy flower vendors, donkeys half-asleep under yellow sombreros, turtles wearing tiny black top hats, a sultry Nereid being pulled in a white sleigh by twin sea horses, St. Francis with teensy bluebirds on his shoulders—all were crushed, decimated, left in shards and ruins.
The truck didn’t come to a complete stop until it bounced against a chain-link fence hung with half-a-dozen zebra skin rugs and some choice black velvet paintings. A six-foot tall portrait of a blue-eyed Siberian Tiger shook loose from the fence during the bounce and fell face down in the dirt. At that point the two Mexican brothers who owned and operated the market were running toward the truck shouting South-of-the-Border obscenities. They were big men in dusty rolled up jeans and wife-beater T-shirts. Their deeply tanned arms were ropy with muscles and dotted with prison tattoos: crude bluish-green spiders and swastikas and an Eye of Fatima dripping tears. “Oh shit…” Skip said, as he got out of the truck to greet them. While Hideous and D.H. cowered in back, Jimmy climbed on top of still-comatose Gordon and prepared to put the truck into reverse.
“¡Pendejos! You run over Baby Jesus!” said the first brother.
“We will kill you with death!” said the other brother. “You ruin our business!”
“¡Mira!” said the first brother, picking up the painting of the Siberian Tiger and leaning it against the fence. “A great master of Mexico paint this masterpiece, but now, who will buy it? It is ruined!”
“It’s just a little dusty,” said Skip, inspecting the painting. “Couldn’t you, like, vacuum it off or something?”
“¡Ay, cabrón! He says to use the vacuum cleaner! On so great a masterpiece as this! ¡Pinche gringo! You know nothing of art!”
“Look, I can see it’s muy fabuloso,” said Skip, “but if you just brush off those little dirt clods, I’m sure it’ll be fine. As for the statues we busted up—well, let’s work out a deal. We’ll pay you for ‘em, I guess.”
But the brothers would not be so easily consoled. They demanded two thousand dollars for the Siberian Tiger painting and when Skip said that seemed a bit excessive, they both pulled out switchblades. Meanwhile, Jimmy had thrown the truck into reverse with a loud ringing clank, but Gordon’s tangled feet got in the way of the accelerator and the engine stalled. One of the brothers leapt to the driver’s side window and put his blade next to Jimmy’s throat.
“¡No me jodas! You think you can just drive away, maricón?”
And that was where things stood when Johnny Hoss walked up.
“We got us a problem here, amigos?”
The two brothers turned. Johnny Hoss stood before them wearing steel-toed work boots, dark blue jeans, and a plaid flannel shirt stretched tight across his muscular gut. His knuckles cracked inside brown leather driving gloves as he clenched his hands into fists. In an instant, the brothers knew he could take them both, knives or no knives—it didn’t make a difference.
Johnny’s shiny red Freightliner stood by the side of the highway about a hundred yards to the north. It was his air horn that blew when he passed Hideous’s truck and recognized Gordon behind the wheel. Three years ago, Gordon’s Uncle Gerald had fired Johnny without any explanation while Gordon was away camping after his father’s funeral. Johnny soon found work as a long-haul trucker. He stopped by to say hello to Gordon and the rest of the lumberyard crew every few months, but Gordon missed their day-to-day contact. Somehow, they’d never gotten around to discussing the topic of narcolepsy.
“These boys, they kill Baby Jesus!” the brother holding the knife under Jimmy’s chin said with great vehemence.
“I’m sure they didn’t mean nothin’ by it,” Johnny responded, pushing the brother aside to open the door of Hideous’s truck. He found Gordon slumped across the front seat, struggling for air under the weight of Jimmy, who was sitting on his chest. Johnny helped Gordon sit up.
“Oh, hi, Johnny…” Gordon wheezed, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to see his old friend standing amid a heap of demolished garden statues with two menacing Mexicans behind him brandishing switchblades.
“Who will pay for all this shit and disaster?” one of the Mexican brothers asked.
Johnny turned to them and took out his wallet. “I’ll give y’all fifty bucks,” he said. “I’m sure all this crap cost a lot less when you bought it down in Tijuana.”
“This is a terrible insult! Are we but donkeys? What of our travel expense?”
“Take it or leave it, muchachos.”
The Mexican brothers put away their switchblades and took the money, then they stood around grumbling and kicking gravel until Johnny told them to vamanos. As they shuffled away, Gordon promised to pay Johnny back, but Johnny said not to worry about it—he was making good money now. They talked for a while about narcolepsy and the loneliness of being a long-haul trucker. At some point during that conversation, Hideous climbed out of the pick-up bed and announced that he felt sober enough to drive again. Johnny helped them get the truck back out on the road, making sure the Mexican brothers didn’t come after them for more money. Hideous gave him a ride back to the Freightliner. As Johnny climbed up the chrome ladder bolted to the side of the gleaming red cab, he gave them a cheery wave and shouted a parting word of advice:
“Remember, guys, there’s always a bigger dog.”
“There’s always a bigger dog….” Lloyd mulls that one over. “Hmmph! That reminds me of some advice my paternal grandfather gave me when I was about your age.” Lloyd pauses long enough to make eye contact with D.H., Jimmy, and Gordon as Iggy Pop croons the words to “Sea of Love” from the stereo behind them. “I was always tongue-tied around pretty girls. Then one day the old man sat me down and said: ‘Just keep this in mind, young Lloyd: For every beautiful woman, there’s a man somewhere who’s getting tired of her.’”
“Wow, that is deeply cynical,” says Gordon, who’s decided he doesn’t like Lloyd, although he doesn’t understand why just yet. “Did it help?”
“Well, at first I fell victim to your man’s ‘Bigger Dog’ conundrum. I thought to myself, ‘Sure, a man may be getting tired of her, but that man probably has more money and a bigger penis than I myself.’ So I still felt nervous! But then, lucky for me, I grew up to be filthy rich and hung like a damn donkey, so now I can bed any woman I want.”
“Like a donkey, you say?” asks D.H., still affecting a clinical demeanor.
“Yes. One young lady rather picturesquely described my male endowment as ‘Sixteen Inches of Dangling Death.’”
“What is that, in dog inches?” Jimmy jokes. D.H. and Gordon try not to laugh.
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should remain silent,” Lloyd says archly. “By the way, who puked in my Tang Dynasty vase?”
“Um, that’d be me,” Jimmy owns up
“What were you eating—linguini?”
“Ramen noodles, Cap’n Crunch… but mostly just a whole lot of beer and rum.”
“Keep carrying on like that, and the odds are incredibly good that at least one of you will die before you reach the age of twenty-one. In fact,” Lloyd says, “I’d bet money on it. Your little group should form a limited liability company. Then you could take out life insurance policies on each other and make them payable to the company—so when one of you dies, the others can divvy up the death benefits.”
“Sounds cool,” Jimmy says.
“With death benefits of, say, half-a-million each, the monthly premiums would hardly amount to anything, seeing as you’re all so young. I’d even cover the payments myself, if you cut me in on the deal.”
“But who would insure us?” D.H. asks. “Wouldn’t it be bad for your company if you’re so sure one of us will be cashing in early?”
“I’ve already considered that. There’s a new insurance agent from Fresno who’s been horning in on my territory. A man named Petrossian. That benighted prick deserves your business. Are you men up for a little paperwork?”
“I guess…” says Gordon, “but won’t we need a lawyer first?” He’s growing increasingly suspicious.
“Fuck it,” Lloyd says. “My guys’ll handle it for you.”
“All right!” shouts Jimmy.
“And now, young James, why don’t you take my highly-valuable twelve-hundred-year-old vase and go wash it out in the kitchen sink.”
While Jimmy goes off to scrub the barf out of Lloyd’s vase, Gordon mentions that his grandfather used to be in Lloyd’s business.
“Insurance is one of the most lucrative professions in the world,” Lloyd says proudly. “Your grandfather would have been able to attest to that. I’ve heard he was one of the greats.”
Insurance is all about statistical probabilities, like gambling, Lloyd explains—but the odds are stacked in favor of insurers in a way that Las Vegas casino operators can only envy. Insurers prey on people’s fears, selling them a product they hope they’ll never have to use. The sum of the premiums paid on the vast majority of policies, over the years, far exceeds the value of the claims made against them. “And those claims are often disputed,” Lloyd confides to them with a wink.
D.H. quotes Tom Waits: “The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.”
“Exactly!” says Lloyd. “Look: I provide people a service by allowing them to hedge their risk against unmitigated disasters. But there’s no reason I have to make it easy for them. If they enter into an agreement without scrutinizing it, then why shouldn’t I take advantage of their negligence? Sometimes the sheer amount of paperwork I throw at people will cause them to give up in disgust and walk away from perfectly valid claims.”
“Don’t you feel guilty, taking advantage of people like that?” asks Gordon.
“Guilty? It’s the American way! This country was founded on the principle of taking advantage of other people. Look at what we did to the Native Americans—not only did we steal their land; we subjected them to the most brutal campaign of genocide in human history. America is one big Indian burial ground, when you get right down to it. And then we kick-started our mighty economic engine by exploiting African slaves. If you think anyone ever gets rich without taking advantage of other people, you’re just being willfully naïve. ‘Behind every fortune lies a crime.’ I believe it was Balzac who said that—or Mario Puzo…. If it’s not written into our Constitution, it’s somewhere in The Godfather, I’m almost certain.”
“So the Rockefellers, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan… all those guys were criminals?”
“Absolutely, along with a whole raft of others. They’d include Joseph Kennedy—a known bootlegger—and our current Vice-President’s father, Prescott Bush, who was cited in 1942 for trafficking with the Nazis under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Don’t they teach an honest version of U.S. history at your school?”
“They hardly teach us anything,” Gordon admits. “If it was up to our right-wing high school principal, we wouldn’t even be allowed to read Mark Twain.”
Lloyd sets his fleshy lips in an academic scowl and sets about enlightening them. “The Rockefellers made their fortune by ruthlessly eliminating their competitors, creating a monopoly that controlled ninety-five percent of all the oil produced in America around the turn of the century. They held onto that fortune by routinely violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and opposing unions. Striking workers were actually shot dead—forty of them in Colorado alone during the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. As criminal activities go, how’s that?”
“Not bad,” Gordon admits. “I don’t suppose anyone went to jail for it.”
“Quite the contrary…. The Rockefellers remain one of the most powerful families in America. David Rockefeller likely wields more influence over global politics, through the Council on Foreign Relations, than even President Reagan. And his brother Nelson, with his misguided drug laws, is responsible for putting more people behind bars than anyone since Stalin—the vast majority of them blacks and Latinos.”
“That’s fucking insane…” D.H. says.
“It’s nothing compared to the infernal schemes going on behind the curtain of international banking,” Lloyd says. “That’s where the real money is—where they print it. And the Rockefellers are just the tip of the iceberg.” He catches Gordon rolling his eyes. “Trust me on this,” Lloyd tells him. “I’m a high-ranking Scottish Freemason and a graduate of the London School of Economics. Mick Jagger was a fellow classmate.”
“No way! You knew Mick Jagger?” D.H. sounds like he wants an autograph.
While Lloyd explains how he and the lead singer for The Rolling Stones were educated in fractional-reserve banking, fiat money, and the covert machinations of the House of Rothschild, Gordon tunes in to the sexy French chanteuse singing “Ballad of a Thin Man” on the stereo. She’s turning Dylan’s sneering accusations into a seduction. Her band, Les Veilleurs, has traded the original track’s jangly upright piano for a Steinway playing at a much slower tempo in a nightclub deep underground. Ice clinking against whiskey glasses, velvety murmurs from the crowd, and a shimmering drumbeat provide a dreamy sense of drift and dislocation. The lyrics, sung with a languid French accent, have never sounded more erotic:
You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks.
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks.
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books.
You’re very well read
It’s well known.
But something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is,
Do you, Mister Jones?
Oh crap… Gordon thinks to himself. Who’s Mister Jones here? Me? Jimmy’s uncle seems to be doing his Mephistophelean best to clue them in to the Big Picture—The History of Corporate Evil in America, or whatever—but Gordon is having a hard time following him. He’s too buzzed to concentrate. And that French girl isn’t helping. Her torchy singing is giving him a brain-dimming boner screaming, “Fly me to Paris and get me laid!”
“Predatory lending…” Lloyd is saying, “that’s the key. Goad your intended victim into taking on debt and then use that debt as a means of control. It works on governments as well as individuals. The Rothschilds understood this method and exploited it better than anyone. Using the National City Bank of Cleveland as a front, they financed John D. Rockefeller’s monopolistic acquisitions for Standard Oil. Now the Rockefellers control several key transnational corporations along with Chase Manhattan—arguably the most powerful bank in America—but who controls the Rockefellers? The answer is: the Rothschilds, of course.”
“…‘Here is your throat back, thanks for the loan,’” the French singer purrs.
“Yeah, well… so how does that relate to any of us?” Gordon asks, feeling surly. Lloyd’s mouthful of expensive dentistry has been clacking away as he speaks, affronting Gordon’s nostrils with a funky halitosis. It smells like a raw Porterhouse steak that’s been left in the refrigerator too long. It isn’t doing anything to make Gordon think more highly of him.
“It relates in two ways,” Lloyd says, heedless of the slaughterhouse images he’s conjuring inside Gordon’s skull. “On a microeconomic level, you have the pernicious influence of credit cards, the means by which bankers feed off the financial life-blood of the masses, much the same way as vampire bats feed off of cattle. It’s predatory lending on an unimaginably vast scale. You probably didn’t know this, but that little experiment in picking your pocket got its start right here in Fresno County. Back in 1958, Bank of America did the first credit card mass mailing to 66,000 unsuspecting Fresno County families. It was a huge success, obviously—for the bankers. By 1960, over two million cards were in circulation throughout California, at generally usurious rates.
“On the macroeconomic side of things, we handed over control of our economy—and thus our government—to a cartel of international bankers when Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. That ingenious piece of legislation was cobbled together in a secret meeting at J.P. Morgan’s private retreat out on Jekyll Island. Morgan was in on it, of course, as were the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. The American public has been whipsawed for gigantic profits from pre-engineered bouts of inflation and deflation ever since. Wars, recessions, even presidential elections—the Fed controls it all with monetary policy, our economy’s magic elixir.”
Didn’t Robert Louis Stevenson write Jekyll and Hyde right around the turn of the century? Gordon wonders by association. (He’ll look it up in a few days and discover that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published in 1886.)
“All this predatory lending bullshit is giving me a headache,” D.H. says. “I need another beer. Anyone else want one?” Gordon and Lloyd both say yes to the beers and D.H. heads off to the kitchen to get them.
“Sadly, that’s how most people respond when confronted with the truth about their role in a consumer society,” Lloyd says once D.H. is out of earshot. “They either seek oblivion in alcohol and mindless entertainment, or distract themselves with sex.”
“Or they convince themselves they’re above it all by gorging on expensive meals and buying into a cool but ultimately hollow and meaningless lifestyle,” says Gordon, indicating his surroundings.
“Thank you…” says Lloyd, patting Gordon’s shoulder. “I truly mean that. Your honesty is a breath of fresh air. Deep down, I know I’m just a fat man without a family. But we all have our little foibles. For instance, I can see that you fancy yourself as a bit of a spiritual seeker.”
Gordon shrugs, embarrassed, but drunk enough to plow ahead with a sloppy sort of sincerity. “I just want answers to a few basic questions,” he says. “Like: Why are we here? Where are we going? And why do we have to suffer along the way?”
“I’m not suffering, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Yeah, but I think I would, if I had to live the way you do.”
“You very well might,” Lloyd says with a thoughtful look unseen up until then.
“I’m just curious… what makes you think you deserve so much more than most other people? And why doesn’t it bother you when you screw them over to get it? I mean, your happiness is predicated on someone else’s misery. That’s seriously fucked-up….” Gordon staggers a bit as he says this, as if flinching from an anticipated punch.
“A fatal lack of love must have warped my conscience,” says Lloyd, but he’s just being droll. There’s more amusement in his eyes than malice.
“Have you ever been married?”
“Always a mistake, but yes, I was. To a Miss Laura Olivia Selden-Biddle—of good stock, but my God, what an ice queen she turned out! Don’t believe anything you hear about the divorce settlement. I screwed that soul-killing shrew six ways to Sunday.”
“And you’ve been obsessed with how the government screws you ever since.”
“Along with the big corporations and the cartel of international bankers, yes.”
“Y’know, I’m not sure I believe even half the stuff you’ve been telling us. For all I know, it could be just a bunch of lies and Masonic disinformation.”
“Masonic disinformation… it’s funny you should mention that,” says Lloyd. “Let’s go upstairs to my office. I have something there I’d like to show you. It has to do with your father.”
Gordon’s first thought, uncharitably, is that Lloyd is a pederast who just wants to get him alone someplace so he can put the moves on him. In close quarters with nowhere to run, Gordon wouldn’t stand a chance against Lloyd’s massive bulk. It would be like getting humped by a pervy bull walrus. But then he thinks, What if Lloyd really knows something about my dad? What if he has some sort of clue that would help explain the plane crash? He decides it’s worth the risk to find out. Lloyd is already halfway up a wooden flight of steps next to the foyer. As Gordon pushes past his partying classmates to catch up to him, the twitchy guitars of Television’s “Marquee Moon” ring out through Lloyd’s powerful and expensive speakers. Someone has cranked up the volume. Like so much else Gordon has heard this evening, the song seems to convey a deeper meaning that he isn’t quite ready to fathom. As Tom Verlaine sings it in his CBGB’s-honed yawp:
I spoke to a man down at the tracks,
And I asked him how he don’t go mad.
He said: “Look here, junior, don’t you be so happy,
And for Heaven’s sake, don’t you be so sad.”
• • • • • • • • •
The first thing Gordon notices when he steps into Lloyd’s office is a big red tin umbrella cut in half perpendicularly and protruding from the wall behind Lloyd’s desk like an awning. It’s a three-dimensional replica of the famous red umbrella logo used by the Travelers Insurance Company in all their advertising. Lloyd is seated beneath it, the top half of his face obscured by the umbrella’s shadow.
“I know I’ve fed you quite a bit of information tonight,” says Lloyd, turning on a desktop computer. “The brain is like the stomach—there’s only so much it can absorb at any given time. But if you take away just one thing from this evening, always remember this: The banks and insurance companies are only too happy to sell you an umbrella on a sunny day, but they’ll yank it away from you at the first sign of rain.
“Now, as an example, take my own company…. We issued accident policies for all three of the manned Skylab missions, believe it or not. But did we pay anything out when Skylab scattered itself in flaming chunks across the Earth’s troposphere? No, we did not. If some New Zealand Aborigine caught a piece of meteor shield shrapnel in his Maori-tattooed forehead, that was just his tough luck.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Gordon asks, perplexed.
“Because I like you, Gordon,” Lloyd says, leaning into the light. “And I feel bad about what happened to your father. I knew him, you know…. Not in any sort of public way, but behind the scenes—through mutual friends.” Lloyd takes a small, black-framed picture off the wall beside his desk. “Here…” he says, passing it to Gordon, “this is what I wanted you to look at. Recognize anyone?”
It’s a photograph of Lloyd grinning wildly, most likely drunk, with his fat arm around the waist of a pale man in a navy blue suit. The man in the suit has the lipless, bland, lizard-like countenance of George H.W. Bush.
“Is that the Vice-President?”
“Indeed, it is…” says Lloyd. “And that’s me. But what about the third man?”
There’s another man on the opposite side of the Vice-President wearing tinted aviator sunglasses and a grin nearly as demented as Lloyd’s. His face isn’t immediately recognizable to Gordon—Hunter S. Thompson would be his first guess—but then it dawns on him:
“That’s Arnie Andersen!” Gordon exclaims. “He played the bagpipes at my dad’s funeral.”
“Correct,” says Lloyd. “You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Arnie is a 33rd degree Mason—the highest degree attainable in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. He’s now a servant of the arcanum arcandrum, the sacred secret. As am I, and as is our friend there, Mr. Bush.”
“I thought Arnie knew my dad from the Hoo-Hoo Club.”
“So he did. There’s no rule saying a man can’t belong to more than one secret society. The Hoo-Hoos and the Masons have similar origins and share a similar agenda. Both are doorways to the Ancient Mystery Cults of Babylon and Egypt, tracing their lineage through the Rosicrucians, the Knights Templar, Euclid, Melchizedek—and even so far back as Hermes Trismegistus and the sons of Lamech.”
“The Hoo-Hoo Club? Are you shitting me? They’re just a bunch of ego-tripping hardware store clerks. They might get wild and crazy at the Ramada Inn every year and bite each other in their underpants, but that doesn’t make them wizards.”
“True. There are yahoos aplenty in the ranks of the Hoo-Hoos,” says Lloyd, “and jackasses of every stripe among the Masons and their other affiliates as well. But all of those organizations have a pyramidal power structure, and the men at the highest levels have far more in common with each other than they do with those under them, whom they govern. Your father, as you must’ve been aware, was next in line for the top position in the Hoo-Hoo Club’s leadership. The Snark of the Universe, I believe they call it. That would have meant he was being tested. I’m not certain as to their exact methods, but it’s likely your father would have been required to pass through trials by fire, by earth, by air, and by water—to see if he was worthy of being entrusted with the sacred secret.”
“What sacred secret?” asks Gordon.
“As they’re so fond of saying in the military,” Lloyd smirks, “‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.’”
“Oh, get over yourself…” says Gordon. “What secrets could you guys possibly have that are so fucking important? I mean, you were about to tell my dad. He wasn’t exactly James Bond—or was he?”
“No, he wasn’t. But that’s my point. He may have been tested and found wanting. The Great Architect of the Universe may have deemed him unworthy.”
“That plane crash might not have been an accident.”
“Shit…” says Gordon. It comes out as a dry wheeze. “Do you know who did it?”
“Who? Or what. There are forces at work in this world far beyond the ken of the ordinary man.”
Archons… a Dark Brotherhood… thinks Gordon, but he keeps his mouth shut for now. He wants to hear what Lloyd has to say about it.
“I think you need a little grounding in Masonic history,” says Lloyd, coming around from behind the desk to put his blubbery arm across Gordon’s shoulders. “It might help you better understand what was at stake.”
What’s at stake is my anal virginity, Gordon is thinking, but to avoid a possible end to their conversation, he just shrugs himself free and goes over to check out the computer on Lloyd’s desk.
“Is that one of the new Apples?” he asks.
“It is,” says Lloyd, walking over to stand behind him. “They call it the Lisa. Its official release date is set for this January. It’s the first home computer with a Graphical User Interface. Which means, in other words, that it was built with alien technology in use here on Earth prior to Noah’s Flood, but then lost—or nearly lost. The knowledge of that technology was kept safe for millennia by the world’s secret societies. But that’s getting ahead of the story I’d meant to tell.”
“So you’re saying Steve Jobs is an alien?” Gordon scoffs, edging away from Lloyd again.
“No, not exactly… but keep an eye on Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft.”
“What—is he a Mason, too?”
“He might as well be. He intuits the designs of the First Builder, who works in algorithms as well as stone. We recognize him as a brother.”
There are other photographs on Lloyd’s wall that Gordon pretends to take an interest in: Lloyd in a tweed suit with Margaret Thatcher, Lloyd wearing Mickey Mouse ears with Roy Disney, Lloyd playing golf with Henry Kissinger and Gerald Ford.
“Y’know, it’s weird…” says Gordon, “but my grandmother was talking to me tonight about a Dark Brotherhood. She thinks they’re involved in political assassinations somehow. Would you know anything about that?”
“I’d say your grandmother must be a very wise old woman.”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t be too sure about that…. She also thinks Frank Sinatra is a shape-shifting reptileman.”
“She’s right,” says Lloyd.
“What?” Gordon turns around. Lloyd is looking at him with a jaded emptiness, dead serious.
“Look—do you want the truth, or do you want to keep your so-called sanity?”
Gordon suddenly feels overheated. The werewolf fur on his neck is starting to itch. “Can’t I do both?” he asks.
“You can try.” Lloyd doesn’t sound optimistic. “Only a few have developed eyes that permit them to gaze into the face of truth and live. Perhaps you’re one of them.”
“Truth, then,” says Gordon. “What the hell.”
Lloyd settles his hoggish frame into the leather chair behind his desk and taps at his computer keyboard. A document appears on the screen. “We don’t have time tonight to take you through a complete history of Freemasonry and its alliances with other secret societies such as the Jacobins and Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati,” he says. “You can find a wealth of that material on your own, if you’re so inclined. Since it’s assassinations and shape-shifting reptilians you’re interested in, we need to go back to the Knights Templar and their discoveries in the Middle East. Specifically—what they found in the tunnels beneath the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, and what they learned from their encounters with Hasan bin Sabbah’s fanatical Islamic sect, the Assassins.”
“You’re not shy about any of this lunatic fringe stuff, are you?”
Leaning back in his chair, Lloyd obscures his face in shadow again. “So much sheer crap has been written about the Templars,” he says. “They’ve been turned into the ultimate woo-woo mystery cult. Do you know much about them?”
“Not really…” Gordon admits, “just that they were Catholic warrior-monks with a lot of strange rumors flying around them. But I read somewhere that they left the Cathars alone during the Albigensian Crusade while the other Crusaders went after them. I’ve always sort of liked them for that.”
“Ah, yes, the good men and good women of Languedoc…. Such gentle people, the Cathars. Gnostic vegetarians, if I’m not mistaken.”
“I’m pretty sure they also ate fish.”
“And if you believe the legends, they marched straight into the bonfires singing at the top of their lungs when the Crusaders burned them as heretics.” Lloyd marches his fat fingers across the scattered papers on his desk.
“Yeah, they weren’t afraid of dying,” says Gordon. “They believed Jesus was a spiritual prophet of the True God and they practiced what he preached way better than the Crusaders ever did. I don’t know why the Pope had such a problem with them.”
“As I understand it, they were getting too popular. And the Church absolutely abhorred the Cathar’s assertion that they didn’t need a middleman between themselves and God. Direct access to God is always discouraged by religious institutions, because such access renders those institutions irrelevant. Hence, the Inquisition. I take it you’re sympathetic to the Cathars’ beliefs?”
“I’ve read a few books on gnosticism since my dad died,” Gordon admits. “Their whole idea that the world is too evil to have been created by a perfect, loving god—it just rings true for me. What if we’re really angels who got suckered into incarnating in these human bodies by a half-mad demiurge, like the Cathars believed? It makes you look at life in a brand new way.”
“You should count yourself lucky you were born in this century. A few hundred years ago the Inquisition would have had you on their To Do list.”
“Like I was saying….”
“Yes, well, getting back to the Templars… they were also misunderstood in their day, as I was telling you. I fancy myself sort of an amateur medieval historian. I have a timeline here—” Lloyd points to his computer—“of significant Templar-related events. Would you care to look at it?”
“Um, sure,” Gordon says, curious. He leans over Lloyd’s desk. On the computer screen, he sees a long list of dates accompanied by brief descriptions. He takes a few minutes to scroll through it:
1095 First Crusade launched by Pope Urban II (“God wills it!”) to wrest control of the Christian Holy Land and the sacred city of Jerusalem from the hands of Muslims. Remission of sins offered to anyone who dies in the undertaking.
1099 Heavily outnumbered, but inspired by Peter Desiderius’ divine vision of the sacred city falling to the Crusaders after a siege of nine days (as in Joshua’s siege on Jericho), the First Crusade captures Jerusalem. Almost every inhabitant of the city massacred, some 70,000 in all, including women and children (see Muslim historian Ibn al-Athîr). Many sought shelter in the mosques at the Temple Mount where, in the words of one purported eyewitness: “the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles.”
1119 Nine knights led by Hugh de Payens present themselves to King Baldwin II in Jerusalem for the purpose of protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. After taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they’re installed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount platform, former site of King Solomon’s Temple. Hence their name: Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon—or the Knights Templar.
1127 First Templar Grand Master Payens and other early Templars, including André de Montbard, return to Europe seeking recruits and funds. What the original nine Templars actually did during their first nine years remains a mystery. A growing consensus believes they were excavating under the Temple Mount, looking for treasure. Later archeological expeditions by Warren (1867), Parker (1911), and Ben-Dov (1968) tended to confirm this.
1128 The Council of Troyes recognizes the Knights Templar as an official military and religious order. A Papal Rule for the order is prepared by Bernard of Clairvaux (canonized as St. Bernard in 1174), founder of the Cistercian Order, nephew of André de Montbard, and enthusiastic cheerleader for the Templars during their first few decades of existence. Running to seventy-two articles, the Rule defines the Templars’ dual roles as knights and monks. The Pope gives the Templars his blessing and sanctions contributions to the order. Thus begins their unprecedented rise to wealth and prominence.
1129 Grand Master Payens returns to the Holy Land with 300 new knights, guarding a large contingent of pilgrims along the way. The Templars then join in an ill-fated attack on Damascus led by King Baldwin II. Their allies in this attack are Nizari Ismailis—also known at that time as the Assassins.
1139 By now the Templars own land in France, Germany, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Austria. Pope Innocent II, a protégé of Saint Bernard, decrees that wherever the Templars own property, they are answerable to no one but the papacy. He exempts them from all taxes, tithes, and tolls and allows them to levy taxes and accept tithing on their own land. He also grants them the unusual right to build their own churches.
1145 Pope Eugenius III issues the bull Quantum praedecessores, calling for the Second Crusade. Saint Bernard preaches the Second Crusade in France and Germany. The pope also sends him to Languedoc to preach against Catharism, but Saint Bernard reports back: “No sermons are more Christian than theirs, and their morals are pure.” This later leads to speculation that Saint Bernard and the Templars secretly shared Cathar beliefs.
That’s just the first fifty years…. There’s more, but Gordon has seen enough. What little he’s read about the Templars is coming back to him and Lloyd is only too happy to fill in the rest:
“By the end of the twelfth-century, the Templars had become the world’s first multinational corporation. They’d built out an enormous financial support network with headquarters in London and Paris—and they were only getting bigger. They were well on the way to becoming the first modern bankers, predating the Medicis and the Rothschilds. Before they were betrayed in 1307 by King Philip the Fair—whom they easily could have bankrupted—they controlled one of the most powerful financial institutions the Western world has ever seen.”
“No wonder you’re so into these guys.”
“They were brilliant!” Lloyd enthuses. “People donated land and funds to the Templars because they wanted to secure their immortal souls—a rube’s game if there ever was one. The Templars organized those holdings into productive communities called preceptories. They also built commanderies along all the major trade routes. Then they invented what we now think of as traveler’s checks—letters of credit, written in cipher, that could be redeemed for local currency at any Templar outpost.”
“Templar Express. Don’t leave home without it,” says Gordon, thinking of the American Express commercials featuring Karl Malden—the big-nosed actor who played a cop on the hit TV series, The Streets of San Francisco.
“Joke all you want, but it solved a huge problem. Travel was extremely risky at the time. There were bandits everywhere. But the Templars were trusted. No individual knight could grow rich—they’d all taken the vow of poverty, remember? But that didn’t mean the Order itself couldn’t prosper…. The Templars had gotten used to handling large sums of money for their war effort. Now, for a small service fee, someone could deposit enough money to cover their travel expenses at a Templar establishment in Paris, say, and then pick it up again, with a letter of credit, in Jerusalem—or just about anywhere.
“Those service fees, along with income from their preceptories, started piling up. The Templars put their money to work, making loans to kings and the Holy See. The Church had a ban against usury at the time, but the Templars somehow got around that. They were innovators in every field they got into: banking, farming, shipping, building, trade fairs—you name it. Almost entirely by their efforts alone, they were pulling the European economy out of the Dark Ages.”
“I thought this was supposed to be about a treasure hunt and secret meetings with the Assassins,” Gordon says.
“I’m getting to that. Don’t worry…” says Lloyd. “But the question you should be asking yourself right now is: Where did all that specialized knowledge come from?”
“Okay… so where did all that specialized knowledge come from?” Gordon asks, playing along.
“Some people think the Order of Assassins had something to do with it,” Lloyd says, “and I tend to agree with them. It’s a matter of historical record that numerous pacts, tributes, and treaties existed between the Templars and the Assassins. Both were at war against Saladin and the Seljuk Turks, and you know the old saying: ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ The Templars are thought of as the first modern militia, while the Assassins are considered the world’s first terrorists, using stealth and cunning to kill their richer and more powerful adversaries—often from within their own strongholds. The two orders had a mutual respect for each other. They might have freely exchanged knowledge during the many years when they weren’t in direct conflict with each other.”
“They could’ve written a great self-help book together: How to Win Friends Like the Pope and Assassinate Your Political Enemies. Or: Nurturing the Murderous Religious Fanatic Within.”
“Funny,” Lloyd grumbles, flicking a bead of sweat off his brow. “However, there was much more to the Assassins than just targeted killings. The sect’s original leader, Hasan bin Sabbah, was a renowned Persian mystic and scholar. He’d been inducted into the Brotherhood of the Grand Lodge of Cairo—a repository for esoteric knowledge in mathematics, astronomy, and theology passed down from the days of Adam and Noah. In 1090, by some clever ploy, Hasan took possession of the mountain fortress at Alamut, 6,000 feet above the Caspian Sea near modern-day Tehran. There, he and his followers lived by the motto: ‘Nothing is true, everything is permitted.’”
“Sounds like the set-up for a non-stop orgy,” says Gordon.
“That came later, in 1164, when one of Hasan’s successors, Hasan II, proclaimed the Qiyama, or Great Resurrection—an invitation to experience paradise on Earth, free from the strictures of morality or legalism. The original Hasan was actually quite a strict disciplinarian. He had his own son executed for drinking wine, to cite just one example.”
“I guess everything wasn’t permitted after all….”
“I suppose not,” Lloyd says. “However, Hasan wasn’t above using drugs and sex in his recruiting techniques. According to legends propagated by Marco Polo—and here I quote—” Lloyd squints at his computer as a new document appears on the screen—“‘In the territory of the Assassins there existed an impregnable hidden garden in which one could find everything that would satisfy the needs of the body and the caprices of the most exacting sensuality. Great banks of gorgeous flowers and trees laden with ripened fruit stood among crystal rivers of living water. Trellises of roses and fragrant vines covered pavilions of jade and porcelain furnished with Persian carpets, soft divans, and Grecian embroideries. Delicious drinks in vessels of gold and crystal were served by young girls whose dark-daubed, unfathomable eyes caused them to resemble the Houris, virginal divinities of that Paradise which the Prophet promised to believers. The sound of harps mingled with the cooing of doves, the murmur of soft voices blended with the sighing of reeds. All was joy, pleasure, voluptuousness, and enchantment.’
“‘Whenever the Grand Master of the Assassins discovered a young man resolute enough to belong to his murderous legions, he invited the youth to his table and served him a potion of hashish. Under the spell of deep sleep induced by the drug, the young man was secretly transported to the pleasure gardens where, upon waking, he imagined he had entered the Paradise of Mahomet. The girls, lovely as Houris, contributed to this illusion. After he had enjoyed to satiety all the joys promised by the Prophet to his elect, he was drugged once more and returned to the presence of the Grand Master. There he was informed that he could perpetually enjoy the delights he had just tasted if he would take part in the war on the infidel as commanded by the Prophet. “Go thou and do this thing,” said the Grand Master, presenting the youth with a golden dagger, “and when it is done my angels shall bear thee to paradise.” And the assassin would go and perform the deed willingly.’”
“Man, that is some purple-assed prose,” Gordon comments. “And those guys fell for it, huh? Even though it was a suicide mission.”
“They were men of simple piety—credulous goat herders, for the most part. Of course they fell for it,” says Lloyd. “In all, Hasan was responsible for some fifty targeted slayings over the course of his thirty-five year reign. That’s not so very many when you consider the 70,000 men, women, and children slaughtered in Jerusalem during the First Crusade.”
“With that kind of logic, you could excuse Lee Harvey Oswald.”
“I’m not making up excuses for him. I’m just trying to give you a sense of the mesmerizing power Hasan wielded over his fidais—his ‘faithful.’ That same power was wielded by Sinan, the legendary Old Man of the Mountain, with whom the Templars had dealings. By the way, you don’t believe that bull about Oswald acting alone, do you?”
“No fuckin’ way,” says Gordon.
“Good man! Now, as for Sinan… he was the Syrian chief of the Assassins, every bit as charismatic as Hasan. For instance, it was Sinan who ordered the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat, the Latin king of Jerusalem—possibly as a favor to Richard the Lionhearted. When Richard’s nephew, Count Henry of Champagne, assumed Conrad’s throne, he visited Sinan at his castle in the Nosairi Mountains to negotiate an accord. In Henry’s account of that visit, while he and the Old Man were touring the grounds, Sinan turned to him and said he doubted that the Christians were as loyal to their leaders as his fidias were to him. To prove his point, he directed Henry’s attention to two young men standing at the top of the castle’s towers high above them. At Sinan’s signal, both men jumped off the towers and dashed their brains out on the rocks a thousand feet below.
“The accord was negotiated, but on the Old Man’s terms. In short, the fidais were so absolutely fearless—and hence so feared—that Hasan or Sinan could use the threat of imminent assassination to bend kings and clerics to their will.”
Gordon is more appalled than impressed. “Wow,” he says, “they were just like the Mafia.”
“Where do you think the Mafia got its inspiration? The Assassins had a much greater impact on the world at large than most people realize,” Lloyd says, licking his lips. “Of course, the term assassin is now a commonplace; it was adopted by nearly every medieval European language. In popular theory, the word was derived from a corruption of the name for Hasan’s killers, hashishim, which was Arabic for ‘hashish user.’ But the legend that the Assassins committed their murders while under the influence of hashish is almost certainly false.”
“Yeah, well, murder isn’t exactly the first thing on the minds of any of the stoners I know,” Gordon observes. “After a big bong load, they’d all pretty much rather listen to Pink Floyd or catch a movie by Stanley Kubrick.”
“There’s that…” acknowledges Lloyd. “There’s also the less well-known theory that the term assassin was derived instead from the Arabic word Assasseen, meaning, ‘guardians’—as in ‘guardians of the secret.’ If true, it lends credence to the theory that the Assassins passed along certain mystical teachings to the Knights Templar which were then incorporated into the secret Templar heresy that led to their persecution and to the dissolution of the Order. Do you know the story?”
“Not all that well,” Gordon admits.
“The Templars were essentially brought down by a conspiracy of three men: the King of France, Philip the Fair; Philip’s papal stooge, Pope Clement the Fifth; and the first lawyer of the realm, Guillaume de Nogaret. Philip, as I mentioned earlier, was deeply in debt to the Templars. He also owed prodigious sums to Jewish moneylenders, but he solved that particular problem by having every Jew in his kingdom arrested on July 21st, 1306. Nogaret supervised that operation, which greatly added to the royal balance sheet by canceling out debts and contributing seized assets. In fact, it worked so well that Philip decided to apply the same tactic to the Templars, with the idea that he could seize their treasury and redirect their colossal banking system toward his own selfish ends.”
“Why didn’t the Templars just kick his royal ass?” Gordon asks. He knows it’s juvenile, but he’s thinking along the old lines of: Megalodon Vs. Tyrannosaurus Rex: Who Would Win?
“It seems the Order was caught off-guard…. Philip, that crafty frog bastard, had sent sealed mandates to all the officers of his realm, which weren’t to be opened until a predetermined time. Inside was a document accusing the Templars of the vilest crimes imaginable—worded, no doubt, by Nogaret. It ordered the officers to arrest every French Templar at dawn on Friday, October 13th, 1307—which is where we get our superstition about Friday the 13th being unlucky. It’s estimated that some 5,000 Templars were rounded up and tossed into jail that day. What’s odd is that none of them put up a fight.”
“Yeah, what happened?” Gordon asks. “These guys were badass warrior-monks, and the King owed them some serious favors. But when the police showed up they just fell on the ground and peed all over themselves like puppies? I don’t get it.”
“I doubt there was any urination involved,” Lloyd scowls. “And they would have been outnumbered. But the Templars were so well connected in those days—surely they would have gotten wind of the King’s plans. Actually, there’s a legend that the Templar treasure was smuggled out of France on a hay wain and put aboard a Templar ship, which then set sail for Scotland. If that’s true, then you have to ask yourself why so many of the knights were arrested, including Jacques de Molay, the Grand Master. Why didn’t they implement a counterattack, or simply disappear beforehand? Why submit? It’s almost as if they craved abjection.”
“Maybe they didn’t think they’d be in jail for all that long. They probably thought the Pope would bail them out. After all, they’d been doing the Church’s dirty work for close to 200 years.”
“Another Pope might’ve taken control of the situation, but Clement was weak. He claimed to be outraged by what King Philip had done, when he found out about it, but by then the Templars had been handed over to the Inquisition and confessions of heresy were being extorted from them under torture. Clement only roused himself to the mildest sort of passive-aggressive behavior in their defense, dragging out their trial for years. He may have been in collusion with Philip from the start.”
“What kind of heresies are we talking about?” Gordon asks. “Was it anything like what the Cathars were accused of? The Inquisition had them jacking off on the Eucharist and worshipping a giant toad that turned into a freezing-cold albino man who made them forget all about Christianity with a kiss. They were also supposed to lick black cats on the ass and sodomize each other like maniacs.”
“When Clement released the articles of accusations against the Templars in 1308, they proved every bit as charming.” Lloyd says. “The list of 127 offenses included such highlights as spitting on the cross, kissing fellow knights on the behind, and worshipping a severed head called Baphomet. Article Five, I think, accused them of adoring a ‘certain cat’ in contempt of Christ and the orthodox faith. Sodomy was a given, seeing as how the Templar seal depicted two knights riding together on a single horse.”
“That reminds me…” says Gordon, “the Hoo-Hoo Club’s seal is a black cat with its back arched—”
“—and its tail curled into the shape of the number nine. It represents the original nine Templars, in case you were wondering… as well as the Nine Principles of the Great Ennead in the religion of ancient Egypt.” Lloyd seems pleased with the connection.
“So does that mean the Hoo-Hoos are a bunch of cat-worshipping butt-pirates?” Gordon has to ask. His father’s former sexual orientation is at stake.
“I’ve been told your father was relentlessly hetero, if that’s your concern,” Lloyd says, as if reading Gordon’s mind. He lets out a matronly sigh. “But I can’t vouch for every single one of the Hoo-Hoo Club’s members. They could be filled to the rafters with sodomites and cat-lickers, for all I know. Who cares?”
“Live and let live, right?”
“That’s never been the Holy See’s attitude, but yes, I believe others should be allowed to worship as they choose, without fear of reprisal. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by our Constitution’s First Amendment for a very good reason, and it’s not just because our first President belonged to a cult that was condemned as pagan and unlawful by the Catholic Church.”
“He did?” It’s news to Gordon.
“You didn’t know? George Washington was a Grand Master Freemason. At least fifty of the fifty-six signatories to the Declaration of Independence were Masons as well. And in 1738, just a year after Chevalier Andrew Ramsay had publicly suggested a link between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, Pope Clement the Twelfth issued the famous bull, In Eminenti, which threatened any Catholic joining the Masons with excommunication.”
“Four hundred years later and they’re still pissed, huh?”
“The Church knows how to hold a grudge.”
“I guess. Do you think the Templars really did any of that stuff, like spit on the cross?”
“No one knows for sure,” says Lloyd, “but my answer would be a qualified ‘yes.’ Almost every imprisoned Templar confessed to spitting on the cross, but they often said they did it with ‘mouth only, not with heart.’ Some said the practice had been instituted after a Templar Grand Master’s imprisonment by a Muslim sultan. The Grand Master had been forced to deny Christ in order to secure his release. So the practice of spitting on the cross may have been a rehearsal for the humiliation that captured Templars would face—thereby preparing them to commit apostasy without really meaning it.
“There’s a simpler explanation, though—one the Church would like even less. It goes back to the Cathar belief that all matter is intrinsically evil. They believed Jesus was a part of God, an emanation, who never assumed physical form on Earth. In other words, Christ’s whole show was a projected illusion, meant to teach poor, fallen humanity how to obtain gnosis—or knowledge—of their condition so they could escape it. Jesus never suffered on the cross, because he had no body to suffer in. To the Cathars, the cross was a symbol of the material world to be despised, not venerated. Perhaps the Templars were being taught something similar.”
A wave of nausea shudders through Gordon. His insides feel like a just-flushed toilet filling up with heavy water. He wonders if it’s alcohol poisoning or Kierkegaardian fear and trembling. “But I thought the Templars were materialists,” Gordon says, feeling self-conscious and shaky. “I mean, Philip wouldn’t have gone after them if they hadn’t turned into bankers and piled up all that loot.”
“You have a good point,” Lloyd says. “You also look as if you could use a drink.” He reaches into the desk’s bottom drawer and pulls out a sinister green bottle. Its faded label appears to have been chewed by worms. Terminus, it reads. With much ceremony, Lloyd places two squat glasses on his desktop and pours three fingers of the clear liquid into each of them. Then he gets a pierced spoon from the drawer, along with two cubes of sugar. Cradling the sugar in the spoon and balancing it over a glass, Lloyd next produces a bottle of French mineral water. As he pours the water over the sugar, the liquor pearls to the color of sea foam.
“What is that stuff?” Gordon asks him.
“Absinthe…” Lloyd says grandly. “The Green Fairy. It’s getting very hard to find these days. It’s been banned for almost 70 years.”
He hands the glass to Gordon, who asks, “You’re sure it’s not poison?”
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you there’s a little poison in it,” Lloyd admits, “but it’s the kind of poison that inoculates you against the bigger poison you’re already swimming in: the consensus reality that everyone is expected to swallow whole.”
Something—either the conversation or the milky green liquor—is giving Gordon a thudding case of déjà vu. He worries that the absinthe will send him into a grand mal seizure, or something worse, the instant it touches his lips. Quietly, he asks Lloyd: “It won’t make me go blind, will it?”
“On the contrary,” Lloyd says, “it’ll help you to see. You’ll be able to peer at the world through the eyes of van Gogh. I understand he painted ‘Starry Night’ while he was hopped up on this stuff.”
“Was that before or after he cut off his ear?”
“Who gives a rat’s ass? ‘The Starry Night’ is worth any number of bloody ears. So drink up! You’re in illustrious company. Absinthe was the favored drink of Picasso, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Edgar Allen Poe.”
“Also Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Alfred Jarry,” Gordon appends, recalling his childhood immersion in French literature.
“Who’s Alfred Jarry?” Lloyd asks him, stumped for once.
“A pistol-packing midget who scandalized Paris around the turn of the century with a play he’d written called ‘Ubu Roi.’ It’s about this fat, crazed, scatological king who keeps his conscience in a suitcase. Actually, he kind of reminds me of you.”
“Ha! At least you’re not afraid to speak your mind,” Lloyd grins. “Just like my nephew, that charismatic little shit…. Well then, to King Ubu!” he toasts, tapping his glass against Gordon’s. As Lloyd gulps down the emerald liquid, his squinty eyes boggle. “Holy cats, that’s good…” he mutters.
Seeing Lloyd drink, Gordon decides it’s safe enough to take a drink of his own. The first sip is bitter, weedy, with a hint of licorice. It’s instantly familiar, like something he’s drunk before—although he can’t remember where or when. Maybe in a past life, he thinks to himself. He sips again—takes more of a slurp, really, or a greedy swallow. Gordon has a feeling he and the Green Fairy will soon be getting along like old friends.
“Now, what were we talking about? Oh, yes… the Templars as materialists!” Lloyd eyes his half-empty glass as if it’s a crystal ball. “It’s true that after the fall of Acre in 1291, public opinion seemed to turn against the Order, just as it had in 1187 after the failure of the Second Crusade, when Saladin beheaded 230 Templar knights at the Battle of Hattin and ousted them from Jerusalem. People were asking why God had failed to intervene on the Templars’ behalf while the Mameluks were eradicating them from the Holy Land; they wondered: Had the Templars fallen out of God’s favor? Christian priests left behind had been massacred; nuns forced into prostitution. It made for bad press. And it didn’t help that the Templars back in Europe were so fucking rich. Why couldn’t all that wealth buy them victory? Vicious rumors began to spread: The Templars had sunk into indolence and depravity; in fact, they were treasonous; they’d sold the Holy Land back to the Muslims in secret negotiations and fled to Cypress with their ill-gotten riches; meanwhile, the rest of them were hiding out in their far-flung commanderies, living like sultans…. Well, you get the picture. From there, it’s only a short step to accusations of apostasy and ass-banditry.”
“People were just jealous,” Gordon says, setting his empty glass on Lloyd’s desk. He loves the Templars right at that moment. They had balls. Other people just sat around bitching while the Templars went off to fight the noble fight on foreign soil. Fuck those small-minded fucks back at home! So what if God hadn’t always made it easy for them? At least the Templars had the courage to actually go out and do something, unlike those chicken-shit complainers. And so what if they hung out with the Assassins and blew hash smoke up the tiny pink assholes of cute fluffy kittens and sang liturgies to a decapitated demon. At least they weren’t boring.
“Another absinthe?” Lloyd asks.
“Sure—why not…” Gordon says. He’s feeling magnanimous… and oddly furry, like tiny green nerve filaments are sprouting from his skin and waving about like the shy tendrils of a sea anemone.
“What happened to the Templars in prison is almost too sad and tedious to go into,” Lloyd says, mixing a second drink of his own. “The Inquisition’s methods were brutal. Two- or three-dozen men died at their hands from torture and suffering. Knights were stretched on the rack until their joints ripped from the sockets. Others had their feet basted in fat, then held over flames until their bones fell out. Three cardinals visiting Jacques de Molay behind bars were horrified to see large patches of skin ripped from his back and stomach. Molay revoked his confession in front of the cardinals and begged to receive justice from the Pope. But by then it was too late. Word of the Grand Master’s confession had spread, encouraging other Templars to make confessions of their own. To give just one well-documented example: of the 138 Templars arrested in Paris, 134 had admitted to some or all of the charges against them. Retracting those confessions would be dangerous. Under the statutes of the Inquisition, anyone who later revoked their confession was considered a relapsed heretic, and heretics were burned alive at the stake. It didn’t matter that those confessions had been obtained under torture. Truly, once the Inquisition had you in its clutches, you were in a ‘damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t’ situation.”
Gordon unexpectedly finds himself tearing up. Why is the world so full of angry, self-righteous assholes? Everywhere you look you find deluded hypocrites, bent on persecution. A greedy King, a two-faced Pope, smug Inquisitors who get off on sadism—those poor, screwed-over Templars never stood a chance. But it’s not just them, it’s the fast-talking Wall Street powerbrokers, the television evangelists, and the trailer trash rednecks who always vote Republican, even though it’s not in their own best interests. Why are they always looking to take advantage of us?—the honest, hard-working folks who just want to be nice.
“Life on this planet is so fucked-up,” Gordon says, summarizing his thoughts.
“Amen to that, brother,” says Lloyd, fussing over Gordon’s empty glass. He pours another three fingers of absinthe and does his alchemy with the spoon and sugar again. “‘To live is to suffer,’ as the Buddhists are so fond of saying. It’s never been a picnic. In the Middle Ages we had warring religions, the Inquisition, and the Black Plague. In this century we’ve had warring nation-states, concentration camps, and now AIDS, the so-called ‘Gay Plague’—which will turn out to be a much bigger problem than most people realize.”
“I thought AIDS just killed homosexuals,” says Gordon, taking the proffered drink from Lloyd.
“As if that’s not bad enough!” Lloyd scowls. “But it’s going to cross over, mutate, just you watch…. Thanks to the maleficent powers-that-be, our brief era of the zipless fuck is already done for.”
“Wait a second… you’re saying AIDS was planned? How?”
“It’s supposed to have got its start from some man fucking a monkey in deepest, darkest Africa. How’s that for a backhanded slap at Darwinism? But don’t you believe it. AIDS was intended, spread by vaccinations. The suffering of humanity is intended. There are others who feed off our suffering. They grow strong on it.”
“Lloyd, you’re freaking me out…” Gordon says, taking a big slurp of absinthe.
“Think of the Templars,” says Lloyd, “and their absolutely amazing capacity for self-slaughter. The Templar Rule forbade them to leave the battlefield unless they were outnumbered three-to-one—and they managed to live up to that. They paid with their lives accordingly. Then they stepped almost willingly into King Philip’s evil snare and submitted to years of torture and abuse that culminated in many of them being burned alive at the stake. But the Templars knew something… they weren’t just unwitting dupes. They had something on the Holy See—something which fomented their initial rocket-ride to wealth and power, and later, their equally precipitous fall.”
“So what are we talking about here? The Holy Grail? The Ark of the Covenant?” Gordon, like everyone else, has seen Raiders of the Lost Ark and he knows what Indiana Jones had to say about all that junk. But he’s pretty sure Lloyd won’t be giving him the Spielberg/Lucas-approved version of events.
“If you think it was something the Templars found during their excavations under the Temple Mount, you’d be right,” Lloyd says, “but it wasn’t what you might expect. There was no treasure. The original Temple built by King Solomon had been sacked and looted by the Sumerian King Nebuchadrezzar and his legions in the summer of 586 BC. After Herod the Great went to all the trouble of rebuilding it, the Temple was destroyed once again by Titus in 70 AD. All valuables were plundered in both instances, of course. So there was no Holy Grail left for the Templars to find, whether it be Christ’s Cup from the Last Supper or documents pertaining to the secret bloodline—Le Serpent Rouge—of the Merovingian kings who were supposed to have been descended from the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. They probably didn’t find the embalmed head of John the Baptist there, either, although that used to be my favorite theory. It would go a long way toward explaining the mystery of Baphomet. You remember what happened to John after Salome did her little dance for her step-daddy Herod, don’t you?… The Mandaeans of Iraq believed John was the true messiah, rather than Jesus, as did the Johannites, who further believed that Christ or his disciples had assassinated John so they could take over his flock. That belief, by the way, was called the Great Heresy. Some say it was a belief that even Leonardo da Vinci secretly held. As for why the Templars referred to the head as Baphomet, I’ve read that it derives from the Greek words ‘Baphe’ and ‘Metis’. The two words combined translate as ‘Baptism of Wisdom’—which would fit.”
Gordon’s head is reeling. He’s not sure whether it’s from the absinthe or Lloyd’s manic recitation of legends and facts, but he’s definitely feeling a bit more confused than usual. Mary Magdalene and Jesus had a baby? Who knew? Baphomet is the fossilized head of John the Baptist? Cool!
“How can you be sure of anything when it happened over eight hundred years ago?” he asks Lloyd.
“How can I be sure? Because there are levels of initiation beyond the 33 degrees of Freemasonry’s Scottish Rite. Levels I didn’t even know existed until I was told I was going higher.” Lloyd gets a misty look in his beady eyes. “I was flown to Paris first-class and put up in a lavish hotel with a balcony overlooking the Ile-des-Javiaux. That’s the tiny island in the Seine where Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney were burned at the stake after they renounced their confessions, once and for all, at a public trial held on March 18th, 1314, following the dissolution of the Order. It’s been said that Molay uttered a curse as the flames consumed him, demanding that his persecutors join him in front of God’s tribunal before the year was over. Pope Clement died 33 days later. Near the same time, Guillaume de Nogaret, that wet rat of a lawyer, was found dead of poison with his tongue horribly stuck out. King Philip was killed in a gruesome hunting accident several months after that. So you could say that God—or the Devil—avenged the Templars on Jacques de Molay’s behalf. By the way, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but there’s a Masonic youth club known as The Order of Jacques de Molay. Jimmy has belonged to it ever since he was little.”
“I know,” Gordon says, recalling his ill-fated experience with the Tree House Order of Jacques de Molay. “Jimmy tried to get me to join when I was seven.”
“Yeah. He almost killed me in the process.”
“That’s odd…” Lloyd says, pursing his thin lips. “Human sacrifice isn’t ordinarily required until one reaches the uppermost levels.”
Human what? “What the… fuck are you talking about?” Gordon asks, spilling absinthe down the front of his chin.
“What I’m about to tell you can never leave this room,” Lloyd says, pushing back in his chair. The tin umbrella’s shadow completely engulfs him again. “If you tell anyone what I’m about to tell you—and I mean anyone at all—your life will be in danger. Now, are you sure you want to hear this?”
“Hell yeah…” Gordon says. With that kind of a build-up, how could he possibly refuse? Besides, he’s feeling no fear at the moment. He’s drunker than he’s ever been.
“What I learned during my further initiations at the Grande Loge de France, I’m not allowed to speak of,” Lloyd says. “But I will tell you what I learned at the Grande Orient de France regarding Templar history. And that will give you clues to all the rest.”
Get off your high horse, you pompous, blubbery fuck, Gordon thinks almost out loud. You’ve been stringing me along all night, you bastard. I want answers. Now!
“When the original nine Templars were tunneling under the Temple Mount,” says Lloyd, in storyteller mode, “they came across an older tunnel—one that had been there for many hundreds, if not thousands of years. This tunnel led to miles of larger tunnels that went deeper and deeper underground. Some of those tunnels led to chambers full of human bones. In one such chamber, the Templars encountered a doorway sheathed by a curtain of writhing blue flame. The doorway overwhelmed them with an atavistic sense of dread. Beyond it seemed nothing but a slathering chthonic maw. Fearful though they were, Hugh de Payens held up his lantern and dared to pass through the fiery curtain. He was met on the other side by the inhabitants of a strange and opulent subterranean world—ancients who’d once ruled the cities and skies above. They could communicate with Hugh in his own language and they welcomed him as a brother. And that’s how the Templars first encountered the Anunnaki.”
“Oh God, that is… such bullshit! What are you, like, Jules Verne all of a sudden? H.P.-fucking-Lovecraft?” At some level, Gordon knows he’s attacking Lloyd with the sarcasm of someone who’s incredibly shit-faced, but he can’t stop himself. “Who’re the Anunnaki then? A bunch of space aliens? Morlocks? Bigfoot? I mean, c’mon….”
Inside the darkness created by the big red umbrella, Lloyd seems as imperturbable as a giant clam. “You’re reacting so vehemently because your programmed belief system is being challenged,” he says. “I call this extraterrestrial species the Anunnaki because that was the name given to them by the ancient Sumerians. It translates as ‘Those Who Came to Earth from Heaven.’ Sumer, in case you don’t know, occupied the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers about fifty-five hundred years ago in what is now known as southern Iraq. It was the site of the world’s first civilization, if you’re gullible enough to believe the standard history books. But do a little digging and I think you’ll find that the Anunnaki turn up in just about every culture’s creation myths. You can recognize them by their names and symbols, which usually appear as serpents or dragons. They’re known as the Nagas of India and Tibet, the Djedhi of Egypt, the Lung Wangs of China, and the Neifelheim of Scandinavia. In Mesoamerica, where we know them best, they were called Kulkukán—or Quetzalcoatl.”
“Plumed Serpent,” Gordon translates, calmer now. “So, basically, you’re saying the Anunnaki are a bunch of feathered lizard dudes.”
“Close. Actually, they’re more amphibious. They have a humanoid form, with a serpent’s facial features and moist, scaly, greenish-black skin. That’s why they choose to live underground—it’s much easier on the epidermis. Some of them have adapted to a life of almost total darkness. That sub-race has shrunken to the size of pygmies. Their pupils have grown large and their skin has turned pale and ashen. They’re known as the ‘Greys,’ the aliens who seem so intent on abducting people and tickling them with anal probes these days. The Anunnaki, who live much closer to the Earth’s surface, have kept their skin’s original dark pigmentation. It helps protects them from the sun. They’re the ones who’ve learned to shape-shift and commandeer human bodies. They also, long ago, mixed their DNA with human genes. They were the Nefilim, the so-called ‘sons of God’ in Genesis who ‘went to the daughters of men and had children by them.’ The Bible tells us the offspring of those lewd interspecies couplings were ‘the heroes of old, men of renown.’”
A mental snapshot of D.H. in his raccoon fur jacket and purple pimp hat flits through Gordon’s mind as he says: “Lloyd, babes, you a muthafuckin’ wild man.”
“Thank you for that earthy compliment,” Lloyd replies from the shadows. Jesus, Gordon thinks, he sounds just like Orson Welles. “I want to make one thing clear before we move on. The Anunnaki have been here on Earth for hundreds of thousands of years—and they weren’t the only ones. There was another extraterrestrial species that first landed in the north, the so-called ‘Nordic’-types. They were more like us. They had long blonde hair, intense—almost electric—blue eyes, and pearly white skin. And they were very tall, like your father, well over six feet. The symbols most associated with them are wings—whether angel wings or dragon wings—and birds in general, most often the Phoenix. As you might’ve guessed from the Scandinavian term ‘Neifelhiem,’ the Nordic aliens were also lumped in the category of Nefilim, which has variously been translated as ‘giants’ or ‘Those Who Were Cast Down.’ They were also ‘the Watchers’ from the apocryphal text called The Book of Enoch. As I’m sure you understand by now, the Bible is nothing but a hodgepodge of dubious translations and retellings of old histories and myths from diverse cultures. Specifically, the Old Testament relies heavily on the ancient recorded history of Sumer and Babylon (the names have changed but the stories remain the same), and the New Testament is a rehashing of the Sun God myths earlier personified by Mithras, Osiris, and Attis, among others.”
“Holy shit! Has the Moral Majority found out about this? I’m sure Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham will have something to say about it.” Gordon doesn’t necessarily like being a smartass, but sometimes he just can’t help it.
“All religious zealots, of any stripe, are the unknowing prison guards of society, but let’s not get into that just now….” Lloyd groans as if he’s suffering from a sudden stomachache. “I want you to understand more about the Nordic aliens, because you’re obviously related to them. They were at war with the Anunnaki long before they arrived on Earth. They were sent here to supervise without interfering. They were very wise and benevolent, if somewhat aloof. They didn’t share the Anunnaki’s reptilian instinct for territoriality and dominance. They had the same characteristics we attribute to angels. The Nordic aliens did, however, have one fatal flaw: They got horny. They, too, ‘went to the daughters of men and had children by them’ and those children became vulnerable to the Anunnaki.”
“I guess if I was an angel sent down here to watch over stuff, I might get bored and horny enough to want a little human poontang, too,” says Gordon, trying to identify with his Nordic alien ancestors. Dizzy, he thinks to himself, I hope I don’t pass out….
“Now all this happened hundreds of thousands of years ago,” Lloyd reminds him. “Most of it took place on the lost continents of Atlantis and Lemuria. The hybrid children of the Nordic aliens grew to maturity. Some of them bred with other humans and their Nordic alien genes spread throughout the human population. But some of the other hybrid children were abducted and raped by the Anunnaki, and the offspring from those violent encounters became the race known as the Aryans. So you see, Hitler was onto something, after all…. The Aryans, as a rule, retained the more human features of their Nordic alien ancestors, but they also acquired some of the dominant reptilian traits from the Anunnaki DNA, making them prone to cruelty, selfishness, and malice. The Anunnaki strove to keep this bloodline pure. Human beings have a natural aversion to mating with reptilians, as do the Nordic aliens, of course. If it hadn’t been for the enforced breeding programs among the captive Nordic alien-human hybrids, the Anunnaki genes never would have gained a foothold. But that breeding did indeed occur. The resulting bloodline was the true Serpent Rouge—the red serpent, or serpent blood—passed down through generations of Merovingian kings with their fabled long blonde hair. That breeding is also why you’ll find Aztec descriptions of Quetzalcoatl as a white man.”
“The plumed serpent…” Gordon says again, getting it. “They combined the bird symbolism of the Nordic aliens with the snake symbolism of the Anunnaki.”
“Right. You’ll also find those two symbols combined in the caduceus,” Lloyd points out. “Two snakes spiraling upward on a winged staff, just like the double-helical structure of our DNA as discovered by Crick and Watson in 1953. We associate it now with medicine, but the caduceus was originally a symbol of commerce that first appeared in Sumer around the same time that construction started on the Great Pyramid at Giza. Hermes and Mercury carried the caduceus to identify themselves as divine messengers. It allowed them to travel unmolested wherever they chose to go. Cybele, Enki, and Anubis each had one, too. The caduceus also has a connection to Kundalini yoga, which awakens the ‘serpent power’ coiled at the base of our spines. In other words, Kundalini awakens the occult alien powers, like telekinesis and telepathy, which lay dormant in our reptilian DNA.”
Powers that could levitate and kill a brown Doberman pinscher? Gordon wants to ask, but he doesn’t—because Lloyd is still talking:
“…The spiraling snakes of the caduceus are thought to represent the two main subtle nerve channels (the ‘ida’ and ‘pingala’) that travel up the spine and central nervous system, crisscrossing each other at the seven major chakra points. The wings represent the two lobes of the brain—or the enlightened mind, freed from the shackles of mundane reality. But that’s taking us rather far afield.”
“Yeah, let’s get back to Quetzalcoatl,” says Gordon. “I had no idea the Aztecs thought he was a white guy.”
“That’s why Cortez had such an easy time of it when he came ashore to conquer them. The Aztecs thought he was Quetzalcoatl returning as promised. In Aztec legends, Quetzalcoatl was much like Christ. He was the god of the Morning Star and the patron saint of priests. He was said to have given the Aztecs corn to grow and he invented their calendar and books. Then he died and was resurrected. Like Christ, he promised to return someday, probably in the same ‘flying boat’ he first rode in on. In all likelihood, the true Quetzalcoatl was a leader of the Aryans who came from a relatively undiluted bloodline of Anunnaki-Nordic genes.”
“Why didn’t the Anunnaki just rule the Aztecs themselves?”
“They did—from beneath the Earth’s surface. See, you have to understand… the Anunnaki (and the Nordics, as well) have been evolving for millions of years. Think of how far our civilization has advanced in only the last two millennia. Of course, a large part of what we accomplished was just back-engineering of rediscovered ancient alien technology, but nevertheless—a jumbo jet would look quite impressive to a 1st-century man who’s only ridden on donkeys up until then. Now multiply that rate of technological progress exponentially. The Anunnaki have learned how to possess human bodies and make them do their bidding. I think they do it by holographic projection, although I’m not certain as to their exact methods. What I do know for sure is that it requires the host to be carrying a specific gene that only appears in Anunnaki-bred neural DNA.”
“I remember reading somewhere that a single strand of neural DNA can act like an antenna that picks up the broadcast signal for the whole entire holographic universe.” Gordon is too drunk to consider the full implications of that statement. What he really needs to do is sit down. There isn’t another chair in Lloyd’s office, so he sits on the floor.
“That kind of thinking begs the question: ‘How do I trust my senses when my senses are nothing but a constant stream of mathematical algorithms—or, to be more precise, Fourier transforms—being broadcast to me from parts unknown?’ Let’s not go there….”
“Okay.” Gordon burps.
“The Anunnaki live in a vast subterranean network of tunnels and caverns that honeycomb the Earth’s crust,” Lloyd tells Gordon. “Passageways into that labyrinthine world are hidden in the Andes, the Himalayas, Egypt, Greece, Malta, Angkor, Britain, France, China, and under Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, among other places. There are tunnels under the Aztec temples that lead to chambers full of bones just like the Templars found. It’s no mere coincidence that the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán used the royal cubit as its unit of measurement, as did the Great Pyramid at Giza, along with other ancient structures throughout the world. They were all built under the supervision of the Anunnaki.”
“Did they build Disneyland, too?”
“They had a hand in it, along with the Stanford Research Institute…” Lloyd says, barely pausing, “but let me finish what I was about to tell you in regard to Teotihuacán. It was the largest city in Mesoamerica 2,000 years ago. When the Aztecs rediscovered it some 1400 years later, the first thing they did was conduct massive human sacrifices at the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl. The skeletons of over 200 men and women were found there laid out in neat rows. Some scholars now estimate that in the waning years of the Aztec Empire, before the conquistadors arrived to rout them, as many as 250 thousand Aztec lives were being sacrificed annually. I was told by a very trustworthy source that those sacrifices were made at the behest of the Anunnaki, who emerged from their blue flame-sheathed doorways beneath the temples and feasted on the spilt blood. It was the same story during the First Crusade—remember how the crusaders fighting at the mosques on Temple Mount waded in blood up to their ankles? That’s why they were victorious, even though they were hugely outnumbered. They were willing to pay the blood tribute to the Anunnaki, while the occupying Muslims at the time were not. Historically, wherever you find serpent worship, you’re also likely to find human sacrifices—and often cannibalism. Starting a war that kills millions of people means nothing to the Anunnaki. They think no more of it than we think of the thousands of cows, sheep, and pigs we slaughter each day to feed ourselves.”
“You’re a sick man, Lloyd…” Gordon says. Actually, he’s the one who’s going to be sick. Very sick, very soon.
“The Anunnaki use blood as fuel to maintain control over their human puppets. They also feed on human fear. Fear and hatred connects us to them—maybe by way of that neural antenna you mentioned earlier. The more we can be manipulated to project any sort of distorted negative emotions, the more energy they can absorb and use against us. The Anunnaki want us to crave fortune and fame—those are the carrots they use to get us to do their bidding—but more than that, they want us to crave abjection. They want us to fight their wars, put ourselves in demeaning situations, get addicted to drugs and alcohol, get angry, get divorced. Most of all, they want us to die painful, horrific deaths. Now do you begin to understand why the Templars rose to power and were so utterly decimated? They were furthering the Anunnaki agenda. The Assassins? Same thing. There was an Anunnaki lair under the fortress at Alamut.”
“What about Kingsburg?” Gordon asks. He’s half-joking, but if there is more bad news, Lloyd might as well give it to him all at once.
“You’re a bright boy…” says Lloyd standing up from behind his desk, “I thought you might have figured that out by now. Kingsburg—the Swedish Village—has some of the purest Nordic alien-human bloodlines anywhere outside of Scandinavia. The Aryans have to replenish their own gene pool with the purer Nordic bloodlines from time to time or they start looking too reptilian. That’s why I live here, even though I have the kind of money that would allow me to live anyplace in the world: Kingsburg is a prime breeding ground.”
The ceiling is whirling down on Gordon like a slow circus ride. He lies flat on his back so gravity can do a better job of holding him to the floor. Lloyd appears in his field of vision, leaning over him—his fat red face scarily upside-down.
“Your father came from that very pure bloodline,” the upside-down Lloyd says. “He didn’t have the Anunnaki neural gene that would allow him to be controlled, so the Anunnaki had no use for him, aside from breeding purposes. They were never going to let him become the Hoo-Hoo Club’s Snark of the Universe. They control the people at the top levels of all the world’s secret societies—and by that route they also control the highest levels in government, finance, big business, big media, big religion, organized crime, and the military, as well. So you see… after the conception of your brother, Derek, your father’s work was done.”
Lloyd leans in even closer. To his horrified amazement, Gordon thinks he sees the flicker of a purple forked tongue. “But your mother… well, she’s Aryan.” Lloyd grins. “She, like me, would like nothing better than to drink your blood.”
• • • • • • • • •
The following morning, waking feels to Gordon like being dropped out the other side of a black hole. At first, he doesn’t know where he is. A giant black cat seems to be lapping milk from an enchanted pond somewhere near his head. Ssslurk, slurp, slurp…. Opening his eyes, Gordon finds himself on the floor next to his own bed. The air purifier under his nightstand is running out of water—that’s the cause of the slurping noise, so wet and sinister on this surreal morning, like an anteater sucking saliva through its long, tubular tongue. Gordon is surprised to discover he’s still wearing his clothes from the previous night. Double-checking, he’s relieved to see they’re not covered with vomit. What did I do? a tiny voice asks within him. He doesn’t have much of an answer.
He’s still drunk. Drunk in that It’s-morning-the-sun-is-out-I-shouldn’t-be-drunk sort of way that portends many long and difficult hours to come. He’s incredibly thirsty. He wants to go stick his head under the faucet in the bathroom sink and drink deep, but he’s not sure he can stand up yet. Puking is still a very real possibility. And what if he runs into his mother or his Uncle Gerald out there? They’re sure to be pissed off at him for staying out so late. How did I get home? he wonders. His memory of last night is hazy. Gordon remembers the party, remembers talking about the Templars with Lloyd in his office (man, that seemed to go on forever…), and he remembers Lloyd bringing out his evil green bottle of absinthe. But after that—nothing. He must have blacked out.
Gordon recalls a dream he was having just before he woke up. A very unsettling dream. He was walking through a primeval forest with a man whose face he couldn’t see. They came to a giant toppled tree with its huge root system ripped halfway out of the black, fertile ground. It was Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Gordon thought he saw the face of the Old Testament God in the pattern of the tree’s bark. He pointed it out to the man, but the man didn’t seem to be interested. Maybe it was just a trick of the light. At the same time, however, Gordon heard a voice saying, “God is on his knees.” They walked over to the tree’s upended root system, where the voice had emanated. A deep hole was there where the roots had torn loose from the soil. Gordon saw multi-colored laser beams crisscrossing at the far end of the hole. The man told him the laser beams were part of a high-tech alarm system. He said they could dig beneath the laser beams with their hands and if they were careful not to interrupt their paths, they could get to a treasure on the other side. So they started digging. The laser beams rose above them and fell behind as they dug deeper. In the end, just a few pale green absinthe beams remained and Gordon was able to squeeze past them into a cavern. From there, he embarked on a journey to the underworld. The dream became a little murky at that point. He vaguely recalled some sort of an awards ceremony later, during which he was congratulated by the recently deceased actor, Henry Fonda, the star of The Grapes of Wrath and Young Mr. Lincoln. Then he woke up with his reality-warping hangover.
What I really need is a shower, thinks Gordon. To that end, he crawls up on the bed and shrugs out of his clothes. Waging an internal dogfight with dizziness and nausea, he manages to put on a pair of pajama bottoms and sneak down the hall to the bathroom. I’m safe, he thinks as he curls up in a ball under the shower’s warm jets. I’ll just stay in here for a few hours, drinking water and barfing until I feel better. Maybe I’ll even jack off later.
But there’s no chance of that. His mother knocks on the door, shouting, “Get a move on, Gordon! If you don’t hurry up, you’ll be late!”
He’d completely forgotten: It’s a school day.
• • • • • • • • •
“Man, you were so fucked up!” D.H. says, laughing, as Gordon nurses a carton of orange juice at lunch. He imitates Gordon’s voice, hysteric and slurred, “The Green Fairy and the nookie! An nah nookie!”
“Dude, you weren’t making any sense at all,” Skip says, patting him on the back. “Hey, um… you’re not gonna throw up on us, are you?”
Gordon shakes his head. Wearing a hangdog expression and still battling waves of nausea, he sits at a cafeteria table with D.H., Skip, Twinker, and Jimmy. Hideous took the day off, apparently; he’s not in school. Gordon wishes now that he’d had as much sense.
“How did I get home?” he asks, curious.
“Hideous drove you,” D.H. says. “We threw you in back because we were afraid you’d puke all over everything, but you passed out instead. Your bedroom window was open a crack when we got to your house, so we just pushed you through and left.”
“It’s amazing you held it all down,” Jimmy says. “Lloyd said you drank like half a bottle of gin.”
It was absinthe, Gordon thinks, wondering why Lloyd would lie about that. Maybe because it’s illegal….
“That fat pig didn’t try to put the moves on you, did he?” asks Twinker. “Because if he did, I’ll kill him.”
“No, we were just talking about the Templars and some other weird shit.”
“Did he tell you about his talk with Buzz Aldrin?” Jimmy asks.
“No. What about it?”
“Lloyd’s company insures rockets,” Jimmy tells everyone. “Lloyd’s one of their main guys, so he’s always hanging around NASA and JPL, checking stuff out. One day he ran into Buzz Aldrin, the second guy who walked on the Moon.”
“Yeah, we know who Buzz Aldrin is. Jeez…” says Skip.
“Okay, so anyway… Buzz Aldrin had stopped being an astronaut and had kind of turned into an alcoholic, so they went out for a few beers. And Buzz got a little buzzed and started telling Lloyd this wild-ass story. He said that right after they’d landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, they saw two huge UFOs pull up right across from them on the other side of a crater.”
“No way!” says D.H., meaning, I knew it all along!
“Yeah, it’s totally nuts, right? Buzz swore he radioed Mission Control and told them about the UFOs right away, but the transmission got censored so the public couldn’t hear it. But I guess a bunch of ham radio operators picked it up on a their own special VHF station that bypassed the normal NASA broadcasting lines, so people know what he said. He was all freaked out by it. “These babies are huge!” he kept saying. And then he told Lloyd we were warned off the Moon. That’s why no one’s ever gone back there since 1972. It’s also why they built Skylab instead of a Moon base like they’d planned, which would’ve made a hell of a lot more sense.”
“I’m not buyin’ any of this,” Skip says to Jimmy. “I think your uncle’s full of shit. I could tell right away, the first time I met him.”
“Was that before or after he saw you and Twinker doing it doggy-style up on his roof?”
Twinker bursts out laughing. Her face turns bright red. “You know about that?” she asks. “See?” she says to Skip. “I told you people could see us.”
“Yeah, but didn’t the Moon look beautiful?” Skip romantically takes her hand and caresses it against his stubbly cheek.
“I think your uncle’s totally telling the truth,” D.H. says. “It goes along with my theory that the astronauts use the code name ‘Santa Claus’ whenever they see a UFO somewhere. Like when Apollo 8 came out from around its orbit on the dark side of the Moon and James Lovell said, ‘Please be informed that there is a Santa Claus.’ I mean, so what if it was Christmas? Other astronauts have said stuff about ‘Santa Claus’ following them around, too.”
“Lloyd says he’s seen classified photos of the dark side of the Moon, and there are buildings there that look just like the ruins of ancient temples built by the Aztecs down in Tijuana.”
“There aren’t any Aztec temples in Tijuana, Jimmy,” Gordon says, but the hair on the back of his neck is standing up. He has a creeping feeling of déjà vu.
“Yeah, well, it was Teo-something…” says Jimmy. “He also thinks the Moon is hollow in places. Supposedly, after Apollo 12’s used up lunar module booster dropped off on the Moon’s surface, seismic sensors left behind by Apollo 11 recorded that the Moon rang like a gong for over an hour. It’d only do that if it was hollowed out inside. Maybe aliens live in there.”
“Yeah, and maybe blue monkeys will fly out my butt if I click my ruby red heels together,” Skip says.
“Jimmy, your Uncle Lloyd is a seriously twisted man,” says Twinker.
“I’ll admit, he’s got some strange ideas, but he’s basically been a cool guy to me,” Jimmy says. “Like, whenever I do something stupid, like puke in his antique Chinese vase, he never bawls me out. He just says, ‘It’s food for the Moon, Jimmy, food for the Moon…’.”
“Like I said, the man’s a fucking freak.”
“He wants us to go by that Petrossian guy’s office and sign some paperwork after school today,” Jimmy says. “For that insurance deal we talked about.”
“I’m still not sure that’s such a good idea,” Gordon says, fighting off a panicky wave of nausea.
“Why not? It won’t cost us anything.”
“Yeah, dude…” Skip chimes in. “And then at least if you die from one of your massive hangovers someday, we’ll all make out from it. You’d do that much for your friends, wouldn’t you?”
“Friends who saved your ass from getting busted by sneaking you in through your bedroom window while you were passed out,” D.H. reminds Gordon.
“Don’t put so much pressure on him,” says Twinker.
The lunch bell rings. The cafeteria starts to clear out.
“Okay, I guess I’ll go along with it,” Gordon says, putting his head in his hands. “I mean, what the hell, right?”
“Sweet!” says Jimmy. “Let’s all meet in the parking lot after class.”
• • • • • • • • •
On the way to Mr. Petrossian’s insurance office in the blue 1966 Ford Mustang that Jimmy’s mother signed over to him on his sixteenth birthday, Gordon, Skip, D.H., and Twinker are entertained by Jimmy’s retelling of another one of Lloyd’s stories. It’s the story of a man named Jack Whiteside Parsons, one of the founders of a rocket research group at Cal Tech that eventually turned into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory—NASA’s premier rocket science center.
Jack Parsons was a bold, intrepid, self-taught science guy who made some important breakthroughs in the development of solid rocket fuels during the 1930s and ‘40s. He put the “JP” in JPL with his work in jet-propulsion-assisted take-offs, which allowed military aircraft to use shorter runways. There’s a statue of him at JPL (“Jack Parsons’ Lab” some people there call it…). There’s also a crater on the dark side of the Moon named in his honor. But the really interesting thing about Jack Parsons, aside from those accomplishments, was that he sincerely believed he was the Antichrist and he was doing everything he could think of to bring on the Apocalypse.
Sometime around World War II, Parsons got mixed-up with a secret society known as the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of the Oriental Templars, or OTO)—an offshoot of Freemasonry that practiced ritual magick techniques borrowed from eastern mysticism. The famous drug fiend, British intelligence agent, and devil-worshipping sex maniac, Aleister Crowley, happened to be Grand Master General of the Ordo Templi Orientis in those days. He’d personally singled out Jack Parsons to become the new leader of the OTO’s California branch.
By 1946, bored with rockets, Parsons was living by Crowley’s Thelemic Law, summed up as “Do What Thou Wilt”—a corollary to Hasan bin Sabbah’s “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” There was quite a lot of occult experimentation going on with Parsons waving around his Magick Rood—or more simply, his boner. Parsons was assisted in these experiments by his Scribe—a young, tubby, not particularly handsome megalomaniac by the name of L. Ron Hubbard, who was on medical leave from the Navy for a stress-related condition induced by firing heavy artillery at Mexican sunbathers and writing bad science fiction.
All that magickal jerking off somehow helped the two magickal bad boys attract a foxy redheaded girl from Iowa named Marjorie Elizabeth Cameron—who probably had no idea of what she was getting into. Jack Parsons wanted to conceive a Moonchild with her, a sort of homunculus that would serve as a physical incarnation for the Great Whore of Babylon. Amazingly, Cameron went along with the idea. She and Parsons had a whole lot of ritual sex while reciting invocations from The Keys of Enoch written by John Dee, the Elizabethan magus. Hubbard presumably watched. The Moonchild was supposed to grow up to be a Thelemic messiah who would preside over the End of Days. But Parsons must have been shooting satanic blanks, because Cameron didn’t get pregnant.
Things fell apart rather quickly for Jack Parsons after that. Hubbard ran off to Florida with nearly all of Parsons’ money and his former girlfriend (Sarah Northrup, who later became Hubbard’s second wife—even though he was still married to his first wife, Polly Grubb, with whom he’d fathered two children). Then the FBI started spying on Parsons. As a result, he lost his government security clearance and got kicked out of the rocket industry. He ended up working at a gas station. Finally, in June of 1952, while Parsons was fooling around in a makeshift rocket fuel lab inside his garage, the whole place blew up. Whether it was murder or an accident, no one could say for certain, but the launch countdown was definitely over for Jack Parsons, Rocket-Building Antichrist—he’d had his fiery liftoff.
While those events might come across as a rather severe series of setbacks, actually, according to Lloyd, the ritual fuck magick of Parsons, Cameron, and Hubbard—what they’d called The Babalon Working—had been a stellar success. They’d opened an interdimensional energy portal for the Great Old Ones and something had slouched through it. To Lloyd’s way of thinking, it was no mere coincidence that Kenneth Arnold had spotted the first American flying saucers (nine of them) skipping across the clouds above Mt. Rainier on June 24th, 1947, just as Parsons and Cameron were finishing up their Enochian sex tricks. The Roswell Crash happened several days later, on the Fourth of July, and lurid accounts of alien abductions—with impartial use of anal probes on both out-of-work lumberjacks and juicy high school majorettes—have been occurring at a furious pace ever since. It was also worth noting that Aleister Crowley died that same year and L. Ron Hubbard was inspired to write his book called Dianetics not long afterward. Hubbard then went on to found the Church of Scientology, which teaches ordinary people wearing Dacron slacks and polyester-blend blazers how to become Operating Thetans. And Thetans—again, according to Lloyd—are the closest things we have on Earth to aliens walking around inside human flesh.
And how does Lloyd know all this? Like his hero Jack Parsons, Lloyd belongs to the Ordo Templi Orientis, too, of course….
• • • • • • • • •
Mr. Petrossian turns out to be a meek little guy wearing a cheap gray suit and round wire-rimmed glasses. He shows Gordon, Jimmy, Skip, D.H., and Twinker into his Conference Room (a hastily dry-walled back office with florescent lighting) where they all sit down in standard-issue folding chairs set up around a beat-up laminated walnut table. Mr. Petrossian commends them on having the foresight to start planning for their future at such a young age. He’s very sorry that he can’t offer coverage to Twinker, due to her medical condition, but the rest of them have already checked out and everything’s set to go. As he passes around some papers for them to sign, Gordon thinks to himself, Petrossian, you sorry bastard… you seem like a nice-enough guy, but there’s no way in hell you’re coming out on the right side of this deal.
Then again, he thinks, neither are we. The way Gordon sees it, they’re signing their own death warrants.
• • • • • • • • •
That story Lloyd told about the Anunnaki is actually a pretty good description of how the archons work within the Dark Brotherhood. Except for the lizard part. I don’t know where Lloyd got that. Like daimons, archons can manifest in any way they choose. So you’ve got the Good (daimons), the Bad (archons), and the Ugly (Lloyd and the other Dark Brothers of his ilk…).
Maybe the reptilian slant to Lloyd’s story is just a case of like resonating with like. After all, every human being shares some of the same genetic codes with reptiles. In fact, if you’ve ever run across Paul MacLean’s triune brain theory, you’ll know that the human brain is actually three-brains-in-one. The oldest part of the brain (the brain stem and cerebellum) is known as the reptilian brain, or R-complex. The reptilian brain is all about physical survival—the three F’s (Feed me! Fight me! Fuck me!… Didn’t I already mention that somewhere?…). R-complex behavior is automatic, ritualistic, and highly resistant to change—just like the Vatican. So it would follow that people who identify too strongly with their reptilian brain functions might resonate with dinosaurs and snakes and their legacy of reptilian archetypes, which turn up so often in our creation myths and dreams.
Or maybe there’s more to it than that. Maybe in some cheap-ass sci-fi version of the Many-Worlds Interpretation from quantum physics, a parallel universe was created when a meteor slammed into the Yucatán 65 million years ago and dinosaurs survived the Ice Age by going underground. And now that parallel universe is interacting with our own and the dinosaurs have evolved into big-brained, blood-swilling Tyrannohumans who want us to take out high-interest loans on our credit cards.
But I don’t think so….
While it’s kind of fun to imagine shape-shifting iguana-demons from just south of our Bardo feeding on the depressed feelings and bad sex of humankind, the real story is a bit more complicated.
Have you ever heard of the Anima Mundi—the Soul of the World? Just as every person has a soul—which can be further divided into a higher soul that seeks union with the divine spirit, and a lower soul that identifies with the False Self and its attachments to the material realm—the world also has a soul. Sometimes we refer to this world-soul as the collective unconscious, but there’s more to it than just that. Again, like the human soul, the Anima Mundi can be divided into a higher world-soul that seeks union with the True God, and a lower world-soul that identifies with this False World created by the demiurge.
“As Above, so Below,” as Hermes Trismegistus said. Or “As Within, so Without” as Carl Jung might have put it.
Also, just as every one of us has a personal Shadow (as in Jung’s definition of the shadow archetype), the world also has its Shadow: the Dark Brotherhood. So in that sense, the Dark Brotherhood isn’t really evil. It’s just all the negative crap that the world is projecting. A shadow sphere controlled by shadow beings. Darkness that needs to be integrated by bringing it into the Light. Actually, in a way—since we haven’t completely integrated our own shadows—it’s us.
What keeps the Dark Brotherhood alive is human fear and negativity. They feed off our thoughts and deeds of murder, violence, rape, brutality, and psychopathic rage. They actively encourage and even inspire our creepy moral failings and wounded pride, our shame and grotesque self-pity, and the assorted debaucheries that result from our addictions to pleasuring the False Self. Those desperate acts give off a corrupt spiritual essence that energizes the Dark Brotherhood. It’s what makes them strong. “Food for the Moon,” as Lloyd puts it. He picked up that phrase from G. I. Gurdjieff, who hinted at all of the above when he said:
“Man contains within him the possibility of evolution. But the evolution of humanity as a whole… is not necessary for the purposes of the Earth or of the planetary world in general, and it might, in fact, be injurious or fatal. There exist, therefore, special forces (of a planetary character) which oppose the evolution of large masses of humanity and keep it at the level it ought to be. For instance, the evolution of humanity beyond a certain point, or, to speak more correctly, above a certain percentage, would be fatal for the Moon. The Moon at present feeds on organic life, on humanity. Humanity is part of organic life; this means that humanity is food for the Moon. If all men were to become too intelligent they would not want to be eaten by the Moon.”
Yeah, getting eaten by the Moon is a big bummer…. The whole idea kind of puts a new spin on the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his cult of Moonies, doesn’t it? What better way to stir up a shitstorm of negativity, over the long haul, than to get thousands of perfect strangers to marry each other in a mass ceremony at Madison Square Garden? (Where on May 18th, 1982, Reverend Moon married over 2,200 couples in one day alone.)
It was Gurdjieff’s belief that if people refused to do the inner work that served the purposes of “Great Nature,” then their excess energy would be extracted from them in the form of “useless suffering.” Sometimes this extraction would proceed on a massive scale by means of wars, famines, floods, and epidemics. But Gurdjieff didn’t see our situation as hopeless. He said there was a way out for individual men and women. Maybe the masses were screwed, but an individual could outwit the forces that oppose human evolution. “The liberation that comes with the growth of mental powers and faculties is liberation from the Moon.”
Like resonates with like, and if you don’t resonate with the Dark Brotherhood’s lower astral frequency, then they won’t be able to feed off you. If you don’t identify too strongly with your reptilian brain functions, then you won’t see shape-shifting reptilians. Of course, shit will still happen…. You’re in a human body, after all—and bodies have a tendency to age, sicken, and die. But if you’re sincere in your efforts not to become food for the Moon, then the Brotherhood of Light will be there to help you.
What, you didn’t think you were on your own, did you?
All daimons belong to the Brotherhood of Light, of course. They’re the liberators of humanity, the diametric opposite of the archons. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that, because daimons, as a rule, don’t make life easy on their human charges. They toss up obstacles left and right. But learning how to overcome those obstacles is exactly how we achieve liberation and enlightenment. Consider what W.B. Yeats had to say on the subject:
“It was Heraclitus who said: the Daimon is our destiny. When I think of life as a struggle with the Daimon who would ever set us to the hardest work among those not impossible, I understand why there is a deep enmity between a man and his destiny, and why a man loves nothing but his destiny.”
In addition to daimons, the Brotherhood of Light is also comprised of guardian angels and all those people, past and present, who’ve made a conscious decision to align themselves with the Light of the spirit and the True God. That latter category would include historical figures like Buddha and Jesus and so on (along with less obvious names like Nikola Tesla, Edgar Cayce, Buckminster Fuller, and Wilhelm Reich), and also ordinary souls like that nice guy who gave you a job when you were down on your luck. Many of the people you meet in this lifetime from the Brotherhood of Light will be members of your karass—spirit friends you’ve met in previous lifetimes—but they’ll be having worldly problems of their own and you won’t always be able to count on them. For more consistent spiritual help in this world, your best bet is to get in touch with one of the transcended enlightened masters, like Buddha or Jesus—or your own daimon, if you have one.
All daimons and transcended enlightened masters are working from the Other Side to transmit liberating ideas (or “infused knowledge”) into receptive individuals in our physical realm. It happens whenever human culture seems ready for it. Shakespeare couldn’t have written two plays a year for twenty years without a little help from the Brotherhood of Light, to cite just one example. Bob Dylan made the connection explicit when he said of his own songwriting: “The songs are there. They exist all by themselves just waiting for someone to write them down. I just put them down on paper. If I didn’t do it, somebody else would.”
Great advances in science and technology often come about in the same way. Descartes invented calculus while he was lying around in bed one morning. Francis Crick first visualized the double-helix structure of DNA while he was tripping on LSD. Friedrich August Kekulé worked for twenty years trying to figure out the structure of the benzene ring, and then one night he went to sleep and had a dream about a snake swallowing its own tail—the Uroboros—and everything clicked for him. “Visions come to prepared spirits,” he said later, sounding a little less than humble. He should have just thanked his daimon. (Then again, maybe the benzene ring was one for the archons…. Good ideas don’t always win out over bad ones because the world is corrupt. Need an example? Consider the early history of personal computers: Apple vs. Microsoft.)
Daimons aren’t much talked about these days, but there was a time when people were on far better terms with them. The Neoplatonists certainly didn’t have any problems with their daimons. They actually hoped and prayed for a daimonic guide to help them navigate the perils of this world. It was only after Christianity came along—the single most reactionary force in human history—that daimons were demonized as (what else?) demons. Archons should be regarded as the true demons, in the Christian sense of the word; daimons shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush. But the church didn’t want anyone to know that, because it was making a big power-grab in the third- and fourth-centuries. It wanted to be the only intermediary between the realm of spirit and the realm of man—a role that properly belongs to a daimon.
So how can you tell the difference between a daimon and a demon, you might ask? It’s all in what they want you to do. For instance, if you’re asked to sacrifice your children, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with a demon—unless, of course, your name is Abraham. No, wait… I take that back. Even Abraham should have known better. Human sacrifice is never okay—I don’t care what anyone says. When Isaac was laid out on that rock with his father’s knife poised above his chest, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking the God of Abraham was all that great.
Hermes is the quintessential daimon personified. You have to love Hermes: relaying messages from the gods, conducting souls through the underworld, assisting in the creation of poetry and literature, parceling out dreams and prophetic visions. The guy’s busier than Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. If you’re looking for a more recent example, Napoleon had a daimon (or demon) to guide him during the French Revolution. Sometimes it showed up as a shining sphere, which he called his star. At other times it popped in to warn him as a dwarf dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood.
Napoleon managed to knock the Catholic Church down a few well-deserved notches. He wiped out a lot of the monasteries that had participated in the Inquisition and he turned St. Bernard’s Clairvaux abbey into a prison. Then he forced Pope Pius XII to watch helplessly as he crowned himself Emperor in the cathedral of Notre-Dame.
Daimon or demon? You be the judge.
See, it’s not such a black-and-white world…. If you think an all-powerful Church that tortures and burns anyone who doesn’t share its beliefs is an okay thing, then there’s no reason to change. The modern nation state that Napoleon ushered in seemed like a big improvement, but it’s had its own share of problems, like bigger and more destructive wars, gulags, corporate malfeasance, and the ever-increasing concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few, to the detriment of everyone else.
It’s like Yeats said in 1896 after seeing the premiere of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi: “What more is possible? After us the Savage God.”
Actually, the Savage God has been here all along. The archons never left us.
The latest incarnation of the Dark Brotherhood seems to have us heading toward a microchip-controlled, totalitarian New World Order with plans to reduce the bulk of humanity to the level of wage slavery and herd-like intellectual conformity. If that’s the case, then maybe the Apocalypse isn’t such a bad thing—provided no one gets hurt.
I’m sorry all this sounds so fucking bleak, but as our moon-mad pal Gurdjieff was so fond of saying: If a man in prison has any chance of escaping, the first thing he has to do is realize he’s in prison. So long as he thinks he’s free, he’s screwed. And the Dark Brotherhood is really, really good at turning people into slaves while at the same time making them think that they’re in control of their own destinies.
Think about how advertising works. All those shiny new cars and nubile young women, the expensive Swiss watches and sparkling diamonds, the cigarettes and bottles of liquor that promise to make you look cool. They’re all glamour traps. They’re selling you an impossible dream of luxury and fame and hassle-free sex—a James Bond sort of lifestyle that no one can really live up to, except maybe Hugh Hefner. Mal bought into that dream and it kept him emotionally stunted and dissatisfied throughout his entire life, in a permanent state of pissed-off longing. It also made him work harder to buy things that he really didn’t need. A new Corvette or a liquor store extracts a price in physical, mental, and emotional toil—all of which goes to feed the Dark Brotherhood.
(Women are just as susceptible—just ask any Architectural Digest-reading mom who’s blown half her kid’s college fund on a new bathroom with English tub fixtures and handcrafted Italian tiles. Or talk to the housewife with ten different kinds of mascara and a closet full of Harlequin romance novels who’s given up on making love to her husband because he doesn’t live up to her fantasies—nevermind that with her stretchmarks and stomach flab, she’s nobody’s ideal fantasy material, either.)
Movies and television are the same as advertising, only worse. Your brain shuts down after watching about half-an-hour of a movie or television show; it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state and stops distinguishing between Self and Other. You start to live what’s on the screen—which puts you in the ideal state to feed the Dark Brotherhood.
Think about all the emotional turmoil you put yourself through while watching a movie: You’re at once the cop and the serial killer, the doctor with three wives and the chipper farm girl with leukemia. You gladly participate in car crashes, cocaine binges, machine gun shoot-outs, battlefield skirmishes, doomed love affairs, skyscraper fires, oceanliner disasters, contagion by monkey virus, race riots, blood feuds, witch trials, voodoo rites, emasculation by Egyptian scarabs, and bloody, gushing stomach eruptions triggered by fanged, penis-shaped little space-aliens. You think you’re having a great time as all that emotional crap boils through you. But now imagine a giant astral vacuum-funnel above every movie theater sucking up all that negativity, making the Dark Brotherhood grow stronger. They’ve got you resonating on the lower levels of the Bardo—just where they want you—and you’ve paid the price of a movie ticket to do it.
You’ve colluded in your own doom, as Philip K. Dick would have put it. How fucked up is that?
I’m not saying you should stop going to movies, or stop watching television. You should just try to be more aware of the effects that entertainment has on you. If a movie is making you feel anxious or depressed, don’t buy into it. Remember that it’s only a movie. Later on you can graduate to saying, “It’s only life…” when something in life is making you feel intense negative emotions—because really, each lifetime is like a movie when viewed from the perspective of your immortal spirit.
Heraclitus summed it up with another saying that was one of Yeats’ favorites: “Mortals are immortals and immortals are mortals, the one living the other’s death and dying the other’s life.”
Gordon is about to find out exactly how that works.