Bedlam in Bolinas

Chapter 8

 

        Not like other Men

        Jeb is drifting back into his dreamscape again. Aristo is flying along his side, like a dog gliding on an invisible skateboard. They both sliced through the cool air, and suddenly they are sitting with Jehrom, up on the cliff, looking out over the wide sea … in a moment’s notice.

           Jeb did a double take on Jehrom, he couldn’t believe what he saw, because Jehrom looked so … so strange. Jeb stepped closer to see precisely what this bizarre and lengthy appendage was, what was it? He had to know what this rope-like thing was, just what exactly was wrapped around Jehrom? Did someone tie him up? Is this some kind of gag? Yeah, this is dreams-ville, where everything’s a potential fraud. Jeb moved a little closer and took a minute examination of the snake-like rope, or whatever it was. It appeared to be wrapped around Jehrom’s head and then it hung down his back, and spiraled down all around his body, as he was sitting in a lotus posture. Jeb looked closer and was forced to admit, despite the oddity of the idea, that it must be Jehrom’s hair. The thickest dreadlocks Jeb had ever seen. Jehrom seemed to have thick ropes of hair braided about his head and hanging down and spiraling around him, enough for a microscopic Tarzan to swing on the tresses of jungle hair. Which is what Jeb found himself doing the next second, swinging on a hair vine through the jungle. Anything is possible in dreamland, and time is of no concern. Jeb got tired of being Tarzan, and was again back to his observation position, wondering what was going on again. The rope-like tangles extended up to several yards, round and round, around in a circle on the ground, circling around the person’s legs and torso, as he sat in a lotus posture, appearing to be meditating on something sublime, that being revealed by his wide smile and his eyes shut in trance.

        “So, Jehrom, old friend, is that you? Yes, of course that’s you. Well, what’s up with your hair? Or, is that your hair, or what is it?” inquired Jeb.

        “It is hair,” said Jehrom. “More precisely, it’s the bygone dreadlocks of this ancient soul in a past incarnation. You just saw a prehistoric head of hair from your friend who sits before you.” The words barely left his mouth, and the 14-foot length of hair disappeared into thin air, and Jehrom looked like himself again.

        “So tell me, Jehrom old friend, was it too far to ride an elephant to the local barber shop?”

         “They were scarce,” said Jehrom, “With all the yogis and primordial hippies with long hair, barbers had it tough.”

Jeb chuckled into the night air. Laughter negotiated a diversion from the roller-coaster rides of the wild and wacky world of dreamland.

Jehrom added, "You might wonder why I looked like that, huh? Well Jeb, now is the time to tell, hold on tight, cause it's a wild ride. It's a stickler to believe, but it’s true. It happened so many years ago, in another land, in another life, when I was a yogi … back in there in India, and you were around there too."

Jehrom slowly treaded along the precipice of this gargantuan tale with mincing steps … giving time for Jeb to slowly digest the material. 

“I wasn't your yogi-bear type of yogi, not that cartoon bear you watched on TV as a kid, but the kind of  yogi that we read about in India, especially in ancient times, those who performed mystical feats, bending the fabric of space and time. Sometimes yogis had that long matted hair way back then, like you saw. But, I wasn’t long-haired in this particular story, the long hair came later.”

And Jeb seemed to believe it, and why not? Seeing all that hair, and in light of everything else, the dream adventure, and spirits out of bodies and reincarnation, and yeah, this yarn of ancient hair dregs. And this historical tidbit, that he was a yogi, doing wild ass supernatural things, and so on, and that wild hair-do ... oh well, anything goes. Who knows? Jehrom is definitely not like other men, not in this life, not in a past life either.

           "Around the year of 1944, when this all happened,” said Jehrom. “I had a friend, his name was Babru, and we were sole companions. Great friends we were, and we spent our youthful pastimes in the foothills of the Himalayans, the playground of so many different mystic yogis. It rubbed off on us, or you may say it was destined that we acquired these mystic siddhis from our guru, and thus became accomplished yogis in our tender youth. In that life, my name was Aja."

 Jeb heard the ancient yarn with an incredulous expressions etched upon his face.

 "By god’s grace, we became masters of the eight fold mystic system. Residing in the hallowed mountains of Himalayans, we crossed the threshold of normal physics into that eerie world of yogic power. Every twelve years we traveled to the confluence of the 3 holy rivers of India, for the Kumbha Mela festival. All the big yogis went to Kumbha Mela, every 12 years on the dot, without anyone announcing it, with no calendar to consult, they just knew when to come. They were tuned into some kind of psychic inter-net, that’s how they knew when to come. Some flew on magical flying carpets like the Aladdin stories, and some rode on elephants; some came in a submerged fashion, through the waterways of mother Ganges, even from other planets, with their tufts of hair still wet from Gunga water. Some appeared as if they had just stepped off a flying saucer, from some bizarre planet, from the far side of the universe.

          Fate entwined her skein meticulously that day. We were doing our rituals, and along came a strange retinue. Strange people. Providence pulled us in, skipping on thin air as it was, I could feel it on my skin … thick and heavy. They stopped outside our tent. Strange looking men, dressed a little like us, but obvious foreigners. 

A man came forward, with a head full of crow-black hair, combed straight over, and with an odd mustache atop a grim mouth, and a cloth covered his head, Indian style. Yet, despite the indigenous dress, the attire only thinly veiled a power of ominous destiny, which hung about the man. Prominent blue eyes looked out from the veil, penetrating our subtle boundaries. I never saw such power in a pair of eyes. That was so long ago, still the vision glows bright in my memory. Destiny jerked up her noble head right from the very start. The man promptly began a staring match with Babru, as if he had a preconceived plan to set in motion. Those eyes held everyone in hypnotic trance. And, although we held pride in our own mystic skills, which were astonishing, still they held no match for the power of those eyes. Babru took this up as some kind of challenge, and he accepted it as so. They stared without flinching into the night, both into each other’s eyes. We watched this strange mêlée, wondering what was it all about.

          Two basilisk eyes vibrated an unspoken challenge upon our Babhu, and seemed to be covered with some kind of impregnable armor. The man wielded such authority; it was evident that the man was sculpted by fate to alter history. There was a bad feeling all about him, yet he seemed to be surcharged by the power of destiny. There was no other explanation. Or, perhaps some agent sent or empowered by the gods to renovate the world or something.

 Babru was no match for those champion eyes, and he was crushed, his eyes turned away, broken, you could see it in his face. I could see the defeat, a hint of shame. And I saw something else … surrender to a master. It was the pivoting point in Babru’s destiny. That moment altered his life for good. That moment struck a pain in my heart, for I knew something had changed everything to an impending nefarious ending. What I knew, I didn’t know then for sure. I knew that he had changed for good. Babru looked into the face of Medusa, and the future of his future turned to stone. The man came in, we all sat down. His unbreakable eyes fixated on Babru, and he said, "You’re the one I seek."

         “By the way, the long hair came later on in my life, but that’s another story to tell another time...” At that utterance, the vision faded away.

Jeb woke up in a swoon, muttering, "stopping now, at the punch line? Oh well,” he thought, “just stay tuned, and the saga will continue, there’s always another dream.

  

                                    *  *  *

 

Phelia was freaking out. She couldn't take any more isolation and funlessness, and so she wigged out … totally … she had to make an exit. It was kind of ideal tonight, because the Moon was shining so bright, and she could find her way around the woods so well ... and so she snuck out the back door and faded into the night. She darted across the dark yard, and looked up at the full Moon which moved swiftly through a mass of heavy clouds … as night air exhilarated her senses. The woods loomed ominous before her, and she moved to the left around the northern bend, looking for the familiar passageway, which was hard to see.

Then she found the birch trees and went to her secret place, stepping lightly through streaming moonbeams, and sat on a log and covered her face with shaking hands. Startled by a cat, she flinched and suddenly sucked in cold air. The cat sat still and looked her straight in the eyes. This time Phelia was sure that she could talk to animals and hear them ... and mom said it was a rare gift. The cat just made small talk about the moon and the woods, and how there was something bad in the woods.  The cat said it's so, and he would tell her more later.

          Phelia went for her spot but came upon Zak near the entrance. She was first startled, but he seemed more normal this time, and he seemed troubled, and she lingered and said with a cloy smile, "Hi Zak, how ya doing?" She started to see Zak as sort of a friend, only in the woods, because she misses her Frisco friends and there's nothing else and the cat thing was very mystical, just a friend, and she would make that very clear to Zak … just a platonic friend only.

          He looked up at her shyly and wondered if he should talk to her, if it was safe, and hesitated for a few moments. He worked up his courage and said, "I had the strangest dream again, and yeah, it seems like every dang night this crazy dream comes to haunt me," he said it meekly, shaking his head. "I done found myself in these here woods, walking down near the dang ground, so very close on the ground ... like some dang animal ... an', I met some girl two nights in a row and we all talked about the shining moon and all the bad that's going on, here in the dog-gone woods."

          Phelia was a little amused by this guy, and the strange way he talked and all, and she had to force down a smile to be polite. Yet, beyond all the gruff exterior, there was something that she liked about the guy, well, maybe it was because that she had a desperate need for a friend ... any kind at all. She could easily see that he’s not like other men, not at all. And she was totally intrigued by this conversation and the strange coincidental thing that happened to both of them. It seems, no, it, or he ... couldn't have been that cat she was talking to? No, that was too weird. But then again, what wasn't weird about her whole life these days? 

          But Zak went on to repeat the same conversations she had the previous nights with the cat. And hearing this, Phelia was amazed to hear how he knew the whole thing  ... almost word for word. That was a little eerie for her to swallow. She was afraid and mystified by this strange coincidence.

          Zak went on to say, " I got this feeling I want to worship ... I want to worship the land and sea and sky, but like it's all rolled up in this beautiful woman, and I want to put a statue of this, well, a goddess you might call her, yeah, out here in these woods and bring her flowers and stuff, heh heh."

          Phelia thought this was pretty cool and far-out for somebody like Zak … he was a little more sophisticated than she had thought … or he was trying to be, and she had similar thoughts and desires of her own and wanted to say so.

          “You know something,” she said, “you’re losing that accent a little.”

          “Yeah, they say if I live here so long, after awhile, that would start to happen.”

           

                                      * * *

 

            It was a bad nightmare for Hans, as he dream-walked in painful steps towards the ocean’s edge, following behind the dark man who beckoned him on with a sinister finger. They came upon a veil of mist surrounding a cliff overlooking a vast ocean. Suddenly a doorway appeared through the mist, and they entered, with the black man in the lead. He turned around to the intrepid Hans and raised a finger to spot in his face where the mouth should be, and pointed to some rocks, which he lead Hans to, they hid behind the rocks and the black man pointed over to a sitting area and a fire.

         Hans whispered, “Just tell me what this is all about … who are you and why you torment me?”

         “I can’t say, not all at once, too unspeakable, not for anyone’s ears, if we can avoid it. Just stay here in hiding, and I will be near. Keep your eyes on that campfire, and keep your ears open. Do not try to leave or wake up, or this nightmare will never end.” The black man moved away as Hans hunkered down, ready to face the music or whatever this black man had up his sleeve.

         Two figures seemed to appear out of the air. It was if they came gliding in from the air, riding invisible hover boards. They took their seats around the campfire and began a soft-spoken conversation.

Hans hid in the bushes and wondered who they were. His ears then picked up the faint conversation, and he began to understand a few words here and there. Yes, they are talking about the woods, and the strange things going on in the woods. He hears the name “Harrison” and that perks his interest a whole lot. And then again, he thinks it’s just a dream, a non-sense dream, so he thinks, why take any of this seriously? It’s all illusion, all a dream junkyard. The black man’s illusion. This campfire by the sea, it’s all delusion. These men, sitting there, talking about Harrison, all trickery. Probably talking about the Beatle. It can’t be Cory’s Harrison. I’ll beat this slump I’m in, don’t worry your head on that, just give it a little more time…..

   

                                    * * *

Jeb felt the dream-scape all around him, thick as a brick. Yeah, sometimes these old Jethro Tull or Dylan lines popped into the head. When you’ve been raised with 60’s music, that happens. Pulling himself out of the doldrums, he looked up to Jehrom and said, “This is weird, usually it’s someone waking up from a bad dream, and glad its all over, glad it was just a nightmare. But here I’m always waking up from a day-mare.”

          “Heh heh,” chuckled Jehrom.

          “Yeah,” said Jeb, “These day-dreams are so often like day-mares. Its like its all written in stone, it seems. Like things will happen whether you want it or not, like it’s a done script, and that’s that. But here, it all seems more free - or rather, it seems that I understand it all more. And that make me more free.”

          “Well, what happened in the day-mare, we can talk about it.”

          “Yes, well, we were sitting there, Fefe and I, sitting at the kitchen table over cereal doing our brother sister thing, you know, and I was ribbing her about all her little cat friends out in the yard and all these screwball names she comes up with, like I was asking her what comic book she gets these cheezy names from, 

Phelia said, “Better than all those old fart names you give the pets, like ‘Aristotle’ and  ‘McDuff’ and all that Shakespearian baloney. Like you get this crap from these people who’ve been dead for a 100 years or whatever. At least I giving ‘living’ names, not from some old has-been, whose skeleton was picked clean by the worms  … a few centuries ago!!”

         “Leave it to old Fefe to bequeath these totally graphic and warm and fuzzy images to be left lingering in your mind. Well … while we're loving each other in our usual way, what do you know? So we’re having this conversation over a bowl of toasty O’s, and ragging in usual form, when all of a sudden – in waltzes Daddyo, in the door with a shit-eating-grin, only meant for, well – you know who."

         “In pops the grand old pop, the all-knowing, all wisdom bearing shaman … our guide on the thorny path of life. You know, the ancient bearer of cryptic knowledge, whose sole reason for existence is to guide poor ignorant souls such as myself. Yeah, Dad walks in with some bad timing, as usual, with a grin, which means trouble. And I’m thinking, Oh boy, here we go again. You know, its always like I was born yesterday and don’t know twatt about life, and the parent is always there to fill me in on the obvious things I already know. In fact, I know what they’re going to say before they say it." 

         “Dad says he wants a little man-to-man talk with yours truly. I somehow resisted the urge to roll my eyes to the heavens."  

         "So, Daddo waltzed in the door with this grin, this look and I knew right away we were going to have this ‘man-to-man’ talk."

         "Your mom told me, well … you’ve been adopting a strange habit as of late, and we, being your parents … uh," he said, "we were concerned, you know."

          "This is about why I haven’t been pursuing dates? Huh?"

           "Well, it is kind-of strange to stay home so often on Saturday nights, you know. And your TV habits, well…your mother said she sees you watching TV with no sound, just music, jazz on the radio. No dates, no going out with boys, we're just concerned." 

           Jeb simply stared at dad with an innocent smile, with this look that said, "Your boy is not like other men. You can't put him in a box, you can't label him. You can't file him away into your back pocket."  

 

                                  * *  *

Zak sat in his easy chair, looking real bored, playing his video games. He was a ninja warrior, and he was kicking the butt of all these demons … but his mind was floating a million miles away. Suddenly his meditation was disturbed by the most irritating sound in his life … his father’s whinny, preachy voice.

          “Zechariah … mah boy … when yaw gonna ever stop playing these dang fool games, son? … and do sumpthoun worth more than a pile of dog dung?? 

           Merle’s face was haggard, his three day stubble betrayed his distracted mind, and his eyes stared at Zak, prodding him, imploring him, begging him to grow up and cross the mysterious boundary from boyhood to manhood. Somehow Merle was chosen in this cosmic scheme to father and extract the hidden man out of the embodiment of confusion named Zechariah. Brad Paisley crooned out a woeful song from the adjacent room.

         Merle stood there staring, waiting for a reply … a blank look on Zak’s face told that he had indeed heard the question … he understood the question … as if he hadn’t heard it a million times before, and the blank look also said he wasn’t bothering to even answer, which further infuriated Merle. As his red as a beet face contorted and eyes flashed … he opened his mouth to emit an umbrage of furious words, but only a fine spray of spittle escaped his maw in the process, and a beer bottle slipped from his shaking hand and smashed on the floor … but even as the rage reached red hot, yet his mouth could not form words … yet Zak felt the silent furnace blast nonetheless.

         Right then … to save Zak’s day … came a tumultuous squawking from the yard. Merle traded fury for shocked indignation, his eyes opened wide, telling fear and great anger and revenge…

          The lecture in Merle’s mouth stopped in mid-air, then after a milla-second pause, Merle screamed, “the bastards are after ma chickens!! … Awl’l kill em!!

Merle bolted for the closet and grabbed his shotgun, his hands were shaking so bad it seemed an eternity to snap the chamber open, inject a fresh shell into the chamber and snap the muzzle shut, then he ran out the back door recklessly, slamming the screen door against the outer wall with a loud report, which scared Zak more than a gunshot. Merle ran out into the backyard with wicked vengeance.

         Zak moved to the window quick to see what was about to happen.

There stood Merle in amazement, as he watched a cat chasing a chicken around in circles, while another cat was clutching a fresh kill in his mouth … and both sets of eyes met each other… Merle’s and the cat’s … time stood still as they locked on each other. The cats were big chunky monsters, big gray and black manxes, with black stripes. Merle almost thought they were bobcats for a second. He snapped out of the meditational union with the cat and swung his shotgun instinctively to the cat at chase … although the stationary cat was an easier target, the fact that one chicken was dead already and the other was running for it’s life … must have made a microsecond flash in Merle’s brain … so he swung the double barrel towards the running cat and yanked on the trigger. 

The gun belched fire as the cat zig-zagged across the lawn, diving into the woods, another shot explodes and buckshot pelts riddled some old rotten tree trucks. Merle is swearing up a storm, blaspheming every dang cat in existence. He fired a volley of shots into the woods,  cussing a streak of red hot invectives…

          Right then Zak dropped his game control and ran to the door, as a fear in his mind warned him that Phelia just might be in those woods, in the secret spot, and some buckshot was whizzing it’s way to her tender skin.

                                    * * *

         Jehrom heard a knock at the door, and went to see who was visiting at such an odd time of the day. Opening the door, Jehrom was pleasantly surprised by Jeb and a curious stranger. Pleasantries and handshakes ensued as Jehrom ushered them inside cordially. After formal introduction and seating and tea, and some small conversation … time took them away. It was time to separate, and they got up to leave. Words drifted inaudibly around the room, and thoughts soared miles away in the sky. 

          Did Jehrom really hear that? Did Sreejinn say to him, “Yeah Jehrom, you know you’re usually the first one to wake up. Yeah, almost every time.” Yes, Jehrom heard that. What? Multitudes of ancient scenes seemed to sweep through the room at the supersensory speed of mind. Jehrom thought, “So many scenes flashing by, so many words and thoughts speed by, how could this person wield such wonder in my mind?”

His eyes followed the intriguing sight of Jeb’s newly found friend disappear around the bend of eucalyptus trees. Jehrom could not but help to wonder at the strong feelings at having met this person “Sreejinn” at some time prior, how ever distant that time could be. Those eyes, deep blue eyes, he thought, set in a ageless face, were eyes of another time, eyes that have truly “seen” more things than was told by the owner who claims to have traversed on this planet a mere 25 circles around the sun.

          He seemed to be a mountain of red hot smoldering coals, thought Jehrom, covered by ash, hot fury secrets buried within his frame, ready to burst asunder, at any moment’s notice. There’s a reason why he’s suddenly appeared here. I know in my bones, which is sure to reveal itself in due time. He appeared not interested in this world at all, yet held some purpose to be here at same time.

           In a sudden flash, Jehrom knew, and then he didn’t know. He got a brief moment of dreamesque rapid-fire realization, and then it was gone. Here and gone in a flash, and then he knew nothing. Then a distant chorus faintly rose in the back of his mind, the words barely became audible to his brain, and he discerned the words- 

   so many sunrises 

   So many moon-sets, 

   waiting, waiting…

       And then we connect, we four connect once again, and you’re always the first one to know, it happens every time. The words faded but the meaning came into sharp focus. His memory snapped with a mushroom bang, and then it all blew up in his head, like a hot air balloon exploding memory cells all over the cranium, and he remembered everything, then it got a little fuzzy again. The full remembrance was to come later … later that night in dreamland.

                                                                                                                                         * * *

 

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