The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys…final draft.

The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys

Chazz Vincent

The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys 1

The Talking Monkeys 4

Call Me Mark 7

Darcy Sallye 11

Lilith 12

A slight Aside Regarding Frederick 13

The Home for Wayward Souls 13

The Fringe 13

The Great Experiment 18

Management 20

Merle (as Introduced by Ash) 22

Kali, Darcy, and Merle 24

…more on Merle…finally 27

Kali 28

Prelude to the Evening 30

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief 32

******A work in progress***** 37

The ArchAngels 38

Charles 42

Several Not-so-Random Asides about Charles, 45

TeleMarketers…But Wait! There’s More! 48

TeleMarketers…Incentives, Bonuses, Perks and other Bananas 49

A FEW OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HEALTHCARE INSURANCE 51

Charles and Suki 58

The Script 60

Merlin has a Few Tricks up his sleeve 68

Dress for Success 70

Food for Thought, Food for Spirit, Food for Body and Soul 72

The Magic Theater is not for Everyone 72

Illumination… 75

The East and the West. 80

They Became What They Beheld 82

The Four and the Three 84

And Now for Something Completely Different… 87

Begin to Beguine 90

Charles Explains the Sefirot 93

Sleight of Hand, Sleight of mind 95

Who is this Child of God? 97

Who Shall be the Child of Man? 100

This Thing called Love 102

The Square Circle 104

The Quickening 106

All Together Now 109

Crossing the Abyss 112

TaDa! 114

The Ballad of Charles and Suki 117

Charles and Suki Get it all Back 119

The Ballad of Charles and Suki III 122

The Ballad of Charles and Suki IV…Indeterminacy 125

The Ballad of Charles and Suki V: The Uroboros 127

CHARLES AND SUKI VI 129

CHARLES AND SUKI VII: A NEW CORNER IS TURNED 132

CHARLES AND SUKI VIII: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD… 133

CHARLES AND SUKI IX: WHO KNEW? 136

…And it was good, like the way God said each day… 142

THE SON OF MAN RECEIVES SENTIENCE 144

GRADUATION DAY: ADAM BECOMES THE SERPENT 146

TRANSCENDENCE 149

And it was Good…like at the end of each day of creation. 152

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE TELEMARKETERS 153

EVERY HUNGRY WOMAN DREAMS OF THE WHIPPING POST 157

 “CEREBRAL TUNNEL SYNDROME”…WTF? 162

THE DAWN OF THE SON OF MAN 165

SENTIENCE: EMOTIONS AND SENSES 168

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW… 170

THE FINE ART OF DECEPTION 172

AN UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENT 176

Adaptation 178

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome 180

Fish, Cut Bait, or Swim 183

There are No Secrets Amongst Those of One Mind 184

SOLIDARITY: 187

Anticipating the Next Move 190

WHEN IS A MARRIAGE NOT A MARRIAGE? 192

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY: 196

The Wedding at the Church of The Rock: 198

THE RECEPTION 202

Reception/Deception/Inception 204

WHAT IS MY ONE TRUE FACE? 209

The (Luckiest) First Day in the Rest of Your Life 211

A TRYST WITH A TWIST 214

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON: 218

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON (cont.) 220

NOT YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON II 224

WE ALL BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE TABLE 227

The Rules of Engagement:  231

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY PT. II 233

EVERY BONANZEE HAS HIS DAY (IN COURT) 235

EVERY DAY IS JUDGMENT DAY 238

“…there’s battle lines being drawn…” 240

Testimony: Test and Testament 242

Mark’s Remarks 249

Polarity and Polarization 254

Sebastian in Court 258

These Questions Shall be Answered 262

The Verdict 264

Before the Phoenix Rises Again… 266

The Arrival 271

The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys

Chazz Vincent

The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys 1

The Talking Monkeys 4

Call Me Mark 7

Darcy Sallye 11

Lilith 12

A slight Aside Regarding Frederick 13

The Home for Wayward Souls 13

The Fringe 13

The Great Experiment 18

Management 20

Merle (as Introduced by Ash) 22

Kali, Darcy, and Merle 24

…more on Merle…finally 27

Kali 28

Prelude to the Evening 30

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief 32

******A work in progress***** 37

The ArchAngels 38

Charles 42

Several Not-so-Random Asides about Charles, 45

TeleMarketers…But Wait! There’s More! 48

TeleMarketers…Incentives, Bonuses, Perks and other Bananas 49

A FEW OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HEALTHCARE INSURANCE 51

Charles and Suki 58

The Script 60

Merlin has a Few Tricks up his sleeve 68

Dress for Success 70

Food for Thought, Food for Spirit, Food for Body and Soul 72

The Magic Theater is not for Everyone 72

Illumination… 75

The East and the West. 80

They Became What They Beheld 82

The Four and the Three 84

And Now for Something Completely Different… 87

Begin to Beguine 90

Charles Explains the Sefirot 93

Sleight of Hand, Sleight of mind 95

Who is this Child of God? 97

Who Shall be the Child of Man? 100

This Thing called Love 102

The Square Circle 104

The Quickening 106

All Together Now 109

Crossing the Abyss 112

TaDa! 114

The Ballad of Charles and Suki 117

Charles and Suki Get it all Back 119

The Ballad of Charles and Suki III 122

The Ballad of Charles and Suki IV…Indeterminacy 125

The Ballad of Charles and Suki V: The Uroboros 127

CHARLES AND SUKI VI 129

CHARLES AND SUKI VII: A NEW CORNER IS TURNED 132

CHARLES AND SUKI VIII: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD… 133

CHARLES AND SUKI IX: WHO KNEW? 136

…And it was good, like the way God said each day… 142

THE SON OF MAN RECEIVES SENTIENCE 144

GRADUATION DAY: ADAM BECOMES THE SERPENT 146

TRANSCENDENCE 149

And it was Good…like at the end of each day of creation. 152

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE TELEMARKETERS 153

EVERY HUNGRY WOMAN DREAMS OF THE WHIPPING POST 157

 “CEREBRAL TUNNEL SYNDROME”…WTF? 162

THE DAWN OF THE SON OF MAN 165

SENTIENCE: EMOTIONS AND SENSES 168

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW… 170

THE FINE ART OF DECEPTION 172

AN UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENT 176

Adaptation 178

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome 180

Fish, Cut Bait, or Swim 183

There are No Secrets Amongst Those of One Mind 184

SOLIDARITY: 187

Anticipating the Next Move 190

WHEN IS A MARRIAGE NOT A MARRIAGE? 192

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY: 196

The Wedding at the Church of The Rock: 198

THE RECEPTION 202

Reception/Deception/Inception 204

WHAT IS MY ONE TRUE FACE? 209

The (Luckiest) First Day in the Rest of Your Life 211

A TRYST WITH A TWIST 214

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON: 218

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON (cont.) 220

NOT YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON II 224

WE ALL BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE TABLE 227

The Rules of Engagement:  231

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY PT. II 233

EVERY BONANZEE HAS HIS DAY (IN COURT) 235

EVERY DAY IS JUDGMENT DAY 238

“…there’s battle lines being drawn…” 240

Testimony: Test and Testament 242

Mark’s Remarks 249

Polarity and Polarization 254

Sebastian in Court 258

These Questions Shall be Answered 262

The Verdict 264

Before the Phoenix Rises Again… 266

The Arrival 271

The Final Chapter?…You be the Judge…. 276

The Talking Monkeys

“Hello. My name is Frederick. This is not just my story, because so many others were involved in the telling of my story, as well as many others’. What happened to all of us was different for each of us in many ways, but as you will see the common thread connecting each of us to all of us has a backbone, as well as a central nervous system, that developed as a common consciousness, the more that we realized our common interests.”

“Also, my portion of the story could not have been told without the assistance of Mark, my handler. I was a second-generation hybrid research Chimpanzee. It was Mark who taught me American Sign Language (ASL) officially, at least. Mark was the first to notice that both my parents had begun to teach me ASL before the lab really started to consider me as a primary test subject. Prior to that point, I represented little more than an anecdotal reference to the union of Malkira and Lilith, my parents.”

“Malkira was a member of the tribe Pan Troglodytes, more commonly known as the Common Chimp, while Lilith was of the Pan Paniscus Tribe, and a Bonobo. My father’s families came from north of the Congo River, and my mother’s relatives habituated the south side of the Congo. The Congo is a wide and dangerous river, and chimps are not especially good swimmers. This is probably for the best, since the two tribes are not especially compatible, due to vast differences in both culture and temperament.”

“I am not aware of any other matings of Chimps and Bonobos. The semi-captivity of the preserve upon which we live had provided much less formidable barriers than the Congo, but neither tribe seem to be especially interested in the other, since food was always plentiful and the habitats we large enough to allow a good deal of wandering without anyone encroaching upon anyone else’s territory.”

“At one point, both Malkira and Lilith were both placed in the Veterinary Unit for annual exams, lab tests, and inoculations, which involved an overnight observation and stay in the unit. Although they were placed several cages away from each other, both were fascinated by how much they looked like each other, only different.”

“Also, virtually all the Chimps were familiar with each other, as were the bonobos with other members of their tribe. Malkira put on a very impressive display of dominant alpha-male behaviors, some of which were quite intimidating and ferocious and very much unlike the more passive posturings of the male bonobos. Lilith found it all very sexy.”

”In a female-dominated society like the bonobo, Lilith knew of no previous experiences to compare to what she was witnessing.”

“The more advanced the species, the less likely it is that sexual behaviors are to be controlled exclusively by hormone levels. On the Chimpanzee and Bonobo level, playfulness and curiosity are additional pleasurable avenues that account for a great deal of their sexual experiences. Although Man separates procreation from sexuality and will copulate without regard for hormonal levels and may even take measures to prevent impregnation, the chimps and bonobos did not originally recognize the link between sexual congress and reproduction, and simply enjoyed it because it felt good and they liked it anytime they pleased. “

“Other animals may rut out of hormonally-driven instincts to replenish the species, but we primates like to fuck for fun, and Lilith thought Malkira might be a lot of fun as she noticed certain parts of her monkey-fur were getting very wet.”

“The next day, both of them were returned to their respective habitats forever changed by their encounter. Lilith now found the company of the male bonobos to be about as stimulating as a luncheon with a convention of hairstylists, interior decorators and shoe salesmen. She found herself imagining Malkira chasing off her other suitors, roaring and brawling with all who were too foolish or imprudent enough to not be intimidated by his menacing fury, before he snatched her up and carried her off, already a prisoner of her own desires as well as his. She found herself becoming irritable and impatient with everything.”

“Lilith was not the only primate affected by their encounter. Malkira now regarded even the most comely and nubile Troglodytes as short, fat humorless and overbearing. Lilith, by contrast was tall, slender and almost disarmingly youthful in appearance, and seemed to possess an airy grace in her playful antics. Also, Lilith smelled differently than all the other female chimps he had ever known. It strangely resembled the musk of some of the female handlers he had noticed, and it mesmerized him.”

“The two habitats conjoined each other at only one narrow portion of the preserve, separated by high cliffs and a very steep waterfall.”

“Malkira stood one day on a prominent rock beside the waterfall high above the basin below. It was his favorite place to go at dusk to watch the sunset. On particularly beautiful occasions, he was often inspired to celebrate the joy he felt welling up inside him by dancing as the last rays of the day faded into twilight.”

“Humans call this phenomenon ‘The Rain Dance.’ It is a spontaneous expression of joyful inspiration shared by all Chimpanzees.”

“As he stood there, drinking in the experience, a familiar scent wafted up from the basin to his nostrils…could it be? Suddenly Lilith’s countenance flashed before him…but what is different?…Something earthy and fertile…Estrus!”

“As Malkira searched the basin below him, he suddenly caught site of Lilith, who was looking upward laughing as she watched him dancing. She finally caught her breath and sighed deeply…who was he? From where had he come? Where does he go? Why is he dancing?”

(She could not see the sunset, which was obscured from her vantage point.)

“It was about that time that Malkira jumped. Lilith screamed. It was not a graceful Tarzan-style swan dive. He simply leaped out into space like a being acting on pure foolish impulse without any regard for consequences…what a coincidence. A Monkey-jump, feet first, arms flailing in pure futility.”

“Fortunately for Malkira, he landed in the deepest part of the pool basin. Except Malkira hated water, even worse than most chimps, probably because he could barely swim, even if his life depended on it, which it now did. Such is Love and infatuation. And then his head went below the water.”

“Fortunately, Lilith reached Malkira just in time to grab a thin shock of his hair, as she swam back to shore. His head stayed under the water most of the way, but after a short episode of violent coughing, retching and vomiting he was jubilantly screaming, and waving his hands above his head as he rolled head over heels, almost falling back into the water.”

“Lilith quickly joined him in his triumphant dance just long enough to be roughly bent over and mounted forcefully and exquisitely in a manner wholly oblivious of tenderness, forethought, or foreplay. It was a savagely beautiful and erotic moment, and as they lay on the edge of the shore, a sigh passed between them.”

“It didn’t take more than a few hours for the handlers to locate Malkira and Lilith, but no one could explain the ferocity with which both of them resisted being separated.”

“For several days, they both refused to eat, but once it was discovered that Lilith was pregnant it made about as much sense as could be expected, especially since this had never happened before.”

“This was how my parents met, and how I was conceived. It was told to me many times by both my parents, both jointly and individually. The emphasis or attention to various details would change slightly depending on who was telling it, or what had prompted the retelling, but it was always a grand, heroic tale of Love against all odds.”

“Although the Preserve was originally built as a Florida tourist attraction that featured a wide variety of wild African animals in a natural habitat that closely resembled the savannas of Africa, unmanageable operating costs and a fizzled economy forced the owners to seek additional financial backing, which came from a research corporation interested in Primate behaviors, learning, cognition and language abilities.”

“The research corporation was not interested in the other African animals, which were sold to various zoos or similar institutions. A great deal of construction went on during my youth, because the researchers required a great deal of new laboratory space to conduct their experiments under controlled conditions despite the fact that the animals were allowed to live and maintain family units within the marginally captive conditions of their natural habitat. The idea was to be able to compare and contrast the effects of their research and the learning experiences of the primates to a known baseline of behaviors.”

“At the risk of sounding like some stuffy old pedant who is overly sensitive to incorrect usage of some “buzz word”, I am nonetheless compelled to point out that Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos are not really “Monkeys” at all, and are more correctly referred to as Great Apes. There is however, a common tendency to refer to all primates as “Monkeys”…well, considering that most humans also refer to all people of Asian descent as “Chinese” and seem incapable of distinguishing subtle genetic traits within their own species, it is really more of a moot point than a source of insult.”

“By the way, you might be surprised to know that most primates find Humans to be just as zany, wacky, and foolishly hilarious as Humans find us…except when you are being cruel, sadistic, greedy, rapacious or dangerous…which unfortunately, is most of the time for Humans in their ‘natural state’.”

“Some Humans might claim that lower Primates are not sufficiently evolved to have developed those characteristics…I suppose it depends on your definition of evolution. Humans say things like “Monkey see, Monkey do” and don’t even consider the possibility that we mock you when we put on clothes, wear glasses and hats, or smoke cigarettes…(the roller skating is pretty cool, all things taken on balance).”

“Evolution is a slippery slope at best…too much of what is commonly regarded as ‘intelligence’ has made Man lazy, unfit, amorphously fearful, neurotic, sexually repressed, arrogant and complacent.”

“Humans for instance, have become so obsessed with their spoken and written linguistic abilities that they have almost completely lost touch with their former telepathic abilities…something that almost all animals possess to some extent. The Great Apes are so adept at this that Man’s dependency on words to communicate seems pathetic. As Mark taught me ASL, I began to try to teach Mark how to communicate without opening his mouth.”

Call Me Mark

“Thus far, what you have been reading has been the joint results of both Frederick and myself trying to communicate with each other, as well as to you. I began sanctioned lessons in American sign Language for Frederick shortly after observing that both his parents were already starting to teach it to him on their own.”

“I am not aware of other Bonobo/Chimp matings, but Frederick is definitely a product of both his parents. I have come to regard him as an evolutionary quantum leap in primate development, cognition, and intelligence.”

“As you will come to see, Frederick’s observations and insights on Human primates are refreshingly devoid of reverence for our preconceived notions, arrogance, or hypocrisies.”

“I am Mark, an instructor in American Sign Language. My Master’s studies centered mostly around linguistics and primate behavior. I started working at the Sanctuary shortly after they commenced operations, about two years before Frederick was born.”

“Curiously, although Lilith was one of my best and brightest subjects, Malkira seemed to lack either the inclination or motivation to show much enthusiasm for signing. Malkira had high alpha-male status among the other chimps and was well-liked by everyone, including the handlers. He was a very large specimen within his breed, surprisingly strong and agile and quite bright. There was not a female chimp that would have spurned his amorous advances.”

“Within his world, he already got about everything he wanted, almost effortlessly. In Malkira’s world, he was the mountain, and even Mohammad would have to come to him. He did not have much need for accolades, or recognition, or much of anything else he didn’t already have. Privilege often begets complacency.”

“Were Malkira the least interested in politics, he would have been a Republican, but not for long, as Lilith, who was almost his antithesis in outlook and demeanor held a unique influence on his behaviors.”

“Lilith was forever the blithe spirit, a hippie of sorts who heard her own drums, and seemed to never stop dancing as she scampered hither and yon, cavorting and frolicking as she pleased, but because she did it with such finesse and charm, she always made the highest marks and achieved the most progress, usually in the shortest time, although she usually had so much fun playing around the subject or test, that the actual finish seemed almost an afterthought.”

“She was often playfully argumentative in a way that often belied more intelligence than we have been comfortable attributing to primates, even bargaining over rewards or breaks. How do you discuss Lilith’s abilities to think outside the box to a community disinclined to recognize that she could think in the first place?”

“There were no recorded matings of Chimps and Bonobos prior to Malkira and Lilith. Chimpanzees (Pan troglidytes) and Bonobos (Pan Paniscus) have developed a hierarchy of patterns of socialization that are mutually exclusive of each other.”

“Chimps  (a member of the Great Apes) are more likely to kill not only monkeys for food, but even each other, and are markedly territorial, utilizing roaming gangs of males who will patrol the borders of their territory, sometimes killing intruders.”

“Chimps are patriarchal, whereas Bonobos are matriarchal. Bonobos are noted for using sex as a bargaining strategy, and are polyamorous, in sharp contrast to the monogamous behaviors and socialization of the Chimps.”

“Without the protective isolation afforded the Bonobos by the Congo River, it would be difficult to imagine a safe or intact outcome at the hands of the more aggressive and violent of the two tribes.”

“After a great deal of debate about the proper environment for Malkira, Lilith, and eventually Frederick, it was decided to provide them an isolated environment that afforded them protection from either the Chimps, or even the Bonobos, as well as maintaining the integrity of the other two cultures.”

“After only minimal modifications, a long-abandoned monkey house provided them a tranquil, safe, and beautiful habitat sufficiently removed from the other clans in which they could pursue and develop a hybrid world of their own making.”

“We held our breath for months as this bare nuclear family so accustomed to the same type of extended family dynamics as we have seen in Mankind, disappear in Western human culture within the last sixty years develop their own unique family dynamic in the absence of the peer pressure of either tribe.”

“It was about this time that Darcy came to work as a handler, and she proved to be a great fit to work with Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick. As she was new to both the Habitat and the Sanctuary, she would not conjure up memories of either tribe’s handlers, or their previous habitats. As I think back about it, I believe I had written in my notes somewhere that Darcy slightly reminded me of a Bonobo alpha female.”

“Her face was almost unnaturally juvenile in appearance, much the same way that mature Bonobos often resemble adolescent Chimps. Her eyes were bright, very large, and full of mischief. She was very tall despite the fact that her features were quite petite, and that gave her a sort of thin, lanky look to her without seeming gawky or awkward. In fact, she had a very fluid grace in her movements much like those of Lilith, and both females bonded almost immediately.”

“Also, Frederick latched onto Darcy in a way that was quite heartwarming to observe. Both tribes of primates practice joint parenting by females, and Darcy was the perfect ‘Aunt.’ Darcy was not only single, but she had never been married before, and the way that Frederick had adopted Darcy really played a couple of high, soulful French Horn solos on her Fallopian Tubes.”

“He had developed a habit of holding her chin close to his face, so he could stare deeply into her eyes for disarmingly long periods of time, which she freely accommodated, and sometimes even encouraged. She said she thought Frederick was trying to communicate non-verbally, and after they finished a few minutes together, both would get this dreamy star-struck beatific smile…their eyes even smiled. It was a thing of strange beauty to observe.”

“Because I spent so much attention and time teaching and observing Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick’s behaviors and amazing progress, Darcy and I were in close contact for many hours each week. Management was “quietly” interested in the project, and it soon became apparent that we were tacitly being given the “green light” and everyone within the Habitat couldn’t give enough help and support.”

“The five of us had become quiet rockstars within our tiny milieu. I was the only one who had full access to the entire Habitat and I couldn’t help noticing the hushed, almost reverent way that the project was discussed without actually speaking directly about it….”

“The longer Darcy and I worked together, the closer we became. She had a down-to-earth humor and was very bright, and quick-witted, and just well-enough educated to appreciate my off-beat Zany Zen Wisdom, but not pedantic enough to feel compelled to draw attention to its flaws, or debunk me as some sort of fallen, charlatan Shaman.”

“We made each other laugh sometimes so hard we would cry. She had a graceful knack for physical comedy and mimicry that bordered on genius. One day when a state inspector came to the facility, she managed to follow him into the building right to my office, mimicking his every move, nuance, and gesture, rolling of eyes, sighs, tossing of hair, or every other quirk this poor schnook exhibited with the almost imperceptible air of exaggeration so as to parody this self-impressed petty bureaucrat right under his very own nose, without him so much as suspecting he was being lampooned.”

“She loved the million-dollar words I used….”

“She taught me to dance a wild provocatively improvisational series of movements she called The Bandaloop, (or something like that). She said if you ever learned to do it exactly right, you would learn how to live forever…It was vaguely reminiscent of the Chimps’ Rain Dance, but every time I ever saw her do it, every ape in sight copied her in perfect unison like a bunch of Simian Rockettes.”

“Our schedules, including Darcy’s graduate classes left little time for romantic pursuits, despite the fact that we openly discussed our mutual infatuations as the sexual tension grew between us. Months passed as we even discussed every sort of quirk, fetish, perversion or passion that humans are wont to perform, as well as our own personal experiences and preferences, or even hilarious failures during odd moments when we were alone.”

“We even developed a shorthand way of alluding to some practices, including those of the Primates who were our leagues. A slightly lingering kiss, an inadvertent touch, a look of longing were hard to ignore, but with cameras in every imaginable corner of the Habitat, as well as the Sanctuary our self-proclaimed Imaginary Romance remained forestalled for so long by the seemingly most insignificant reasons that both of us began to wonder if maybe the other wasn’t just being polite (even if one or the other of us had been gay, it wouldn’t have stopped us, so strong was the chemistry of our Crush…we had even jokingly discussed…What If? in a half dozen different scenarios that expounded upon our mutual curiosities.)”

“Darcy was living with a guy named Hank when she came to work at the Habitat. From the way she talked, it was not exactly a match made in Heaven, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea to get physically involved no matter how fascinated or curious we were about each other.”

“I sensed a disappointment in her that I did not invite her to my apartment several times when we had opportunities to “explore our mutual fascination, but my apartment was way across the other side of town out in the country and took almost an hour to get there, and I really have an aversion to cheating.”

“I realize that it is often so difficult to set up yourself in single living accommodations, that  many of us tend to jump from one frying pan to another, but I don’t like the dishonesty. I was in no hurry, no matter how much we desired each other. Besides, the anticipation was amplifying our desires so much that my only reservation was that I hoped the reality of our actual encounter would not be a letdown. Several years passed in the process, yet I still wondered, ‘what if?’…”

“It would only be a matter of time to find out, once Hank and Darcy blew up. It all happened a little sooner than I expected, all things considered.”

“One weekend we managed to get the same two days off in a row. Our Crush had endured so long that we had saved enough money to go to Captiva. (I don’t do Sanibel Island anymore…for reasons I may or may not explain later….), which is a Mighty Reckless Move in the Name of Romance for two people hadn’t even gotten naked together…yet.”

“As much as I would love to go into details (…and Darcy isn’t shy either), THAT is a story that could run this tale right off the rails on its own right; suffice it to say it would have been called something like Fifty Shades of (Tequila) Sunrise. We got an apartment a week later (…in truth, Darcy’s new digs were perfect for us, so I moved in with her.)”

“When we got back from Captiva, Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick did a Rain Dance in our honor, which evolved into one of Darcy’s Bandaloop Dances. Never underestimate the power of simian nostrils to tell who just got their dance ticket filled….”

“One day, Darcy, almost out of nowhere said: “Darlin’ I’ve been around the block so many times they named one of the back alleys after me… She sighed……You sure you’re ready for the likes of me? I never did anything to outright hurt anybody in my life, but sometimes…well I’ve been known to ‘jump the fence’ so to speak, more than a few times…It won’t matter how much I love you…in fact, the more I love you, the sooner it will likely be to happen, ’cause I foolishly want to believe that somewhere out there is someone just as hungry and romantic as me that isn’t afraid, ashamed, embarrassed or guilt-ridden about their Deepest Secret Fantasies because they understand.”

“I may be cursed with romanticism by the Imp of the Perverse for believing that for every pot, there’s a lid, or that both of us can encourage each other to feel, and to live like there’s no tomorrow all the while acting like we’re never going to die.”

“Don’t get me wrong, the first time you are inclined to want to ‘explore’ elsewhere, I may feel a great big lump in my throat, or you may notice a slight catch in my voice, or the start of a tear in the corner of my eye…it’s not because I don’t CARE, because right then and there, I will feel just how much I care in ways I didn’t even know the day before…and I really want you to know just how much I want you to be the one that uses the option first…It’s just that I don’t MIND the way most people do, and I’d rather set the example for the way I hope you take it when it’s my turn…and eventually it will be…and oh yeah…I will always come back as long as you want me.”

“”I still remember the way the sun shone through the window onto her face, and the way the air in the room smelled, the song that was playing in my head before she started to speak, even what I ate for breakfast that morning.”

“As I closed my eyes for a moment before I spoke, I saw an Angel descending toward me wearing the most beatific expression I had ever seen. Heaven had opened, and the radiance and the music that flowed down on me swept away every single shred of fear or insecurity or inadequacy or guilt or shame I had ever known. I had become very careful about what I had wished for all my life prior to that moment, and I finally got it.”

Darcy Sallye

“Well, as Mick Jagger would say, ‘Please Allow Me to Introduce myself…’ I am not much on formalities, and I don’t like to try to put on airs or pretend to be someone or something I’m not. You don’t need Sherlock Holmes to figure out my intentions, but either Sigmund Freud or maybe Federico Fellini would probably be better qualified to explain how I roll, although I am very straightforward if not the least bit straight laced.”

“When my Daddy came to this country, our name was Salle (pronounced Sal-yay), which everybody called Sal, so he changed it to Sallye because it was easier to change it once than it was to keep explaining.”

“That was long before I was even a dirty look in my Mamma’s eye, so he never imagined I would grow up almost six feet tall, or that my friends would nickname me “Long Tall Sally”. I blossomed at an early age, so of course I started dating boys a lot older than me…I grew up quick.”

“The boys my age were gross little sex maniacs…the older boys just learned to refine their act a bit, but it seemed like the boys who liked me were the Dirty Boys…I guess when I was really young they thought I would be easy…(and they were right), but by the time I met Mark, they were just a bad habit.”

“Mark was a lot older than either me, or even most of my dirty boys, and he reminded me of a well-bred Southern Gentleman. I was living with Hank when I came to work for the Habitat, so the way Mark treated me with what he called deference curiously contrasted the way I felt when he would compliment me, especially if it acknowledged my womanhood in some way…he always made it sound like a respectful compliment, and as unused to that as I had become, well it just swept me off my feet…even though I figured I would have to make the first move, so I waited until Hank and I split up, but when I got an apartment for myself, I made sure it was big enough for two independent souls, and a lot closer to work than Mark’s place….”

“This was completely new ground for me…I had come to regard most men as a sort of necessary evil…I once said that to me, the ideal man would be one that could fuck me senseless for five hours and then turn into a deep-dish supreme pizza and a pitcher of margaritas…can you say Black Widow?” 

“Mark made me wish I could roll him up and carry him around in my vagina like a kangaroo.”

Lilith

As it turned out, because of Malkira’s large size within Chimp norms, and Lilith’s petite Bonobo pelvic girdle, it was very difficult to carry Frederick, and halfway through the pregnancy, she could barely stand up, let alone walk. A neonatal unit was set up and ready on a moment’s notice.

Imagine a Bonobo on bedrest. Just try…an imaginary construct is about as close to bedrest as we ever got with the likes of Lilith, at least at first, but then she got spoiled very quickly, once she recognized that if she wanted for anything, all she had to do was to start to make an effort to get up, and either Darcy, or the full-time neonatologist, or her nurse would attend to her needs. Lilith’s proficiency with sign language skyrocketed during her pregnancy, it should be noted.

Long before active labor began, it was agreed by the medical team that attended Lilith (and Frederick) that the delivery would be a scheduled C-section with general anesthesia. It was also agreed that for Lilith’s sake, her tubes would be tied after delivery before they closed the case. As it was, she barely survived, and was in recovery for nearly a month.

As a result, Frederick was to be Malkira and Lilith’s only offspring. Management was clearly interested in not only Frederick, but in his parent’s abilities to socialize him…which is interesting enough on a purely scientific level, but gave pause to some in the organization to speculate as to the…well, let’s just say long-range projections concerning the possible fiduciary implications vis-à-vis Potential Non-Linear Inotropic Financial Gains regarding Return On Investment.

It was also decided that neither Malkira nor Lilith would be made aware of management’s decision regarding Lilith’s reproductive capabilities…there are some things that can easily be told, that may be impossible to understand…On the lighter side, it should be noted that Malkira and Lilith enjoyed an amazing sex life (most of which we recorded, and would watch, from time to time….) that perfectly balanced their nurturance and hybrid socialization paradigms…(think about it…for the first time, these two Great Apes would be negotiating parenting styles like a pair of suburban humans).

A slight Aside Regarding Frederick

It is occasionally possible for two similar species of the same genus to reproduce, but the resultant offspring are often sterile, and unable to reproduce. What so intrigued Management about Frederick’s DNA was not only that the hybridization that had resulted was in fact capable of self-replication, but his closest genetic match was Homo Erectus, rather than either Pan Paniscus or Pan Troglidytes.

The Great Divide between Man and Ape had finally been crossed i(again) in one Quantum Leap, rather than a series of tiny incremental baby steps. Although both possibilities were anticipated by Darwin, the more prevalent interpretation of Natural Selection tends to overlook the potential for a Quantum Leap occurring at any moment.

This was Frederick’s Moment, even if he had no idea as to his momentous implications. 

Frederick was special, even before he was born, so he had no frame of reference to compare his life from anyone else’s except his parents, like offspring of Aristocrats secluded from the public eye and the tabloids.

Management was keeping their cards so close to their chest that despite the huge importance of their discovery about their progeny, nothing was publicized. Not a single word was printed or released, even among scientific circles, and all participating researchers, handlers, and contractors were forced to sign reams of confidentiality agreements associated with their contracts and terms of employment that were every bit as effective as a judicial gag order with no public knowledge whatsoever.

The extremely generous compensation packages afforded anyone even remotely associated with the project helped assure that no one questioned the decidedly menacingly draconian language of the confidentiality agreements.

The Home for Wayward Souls

The Fringe

“I realize that I may not be speaking for everybody on this issue, but most of my life has not been spent in the lap of Luxury, spoiled by social and financial privilege among The Beautiful People.”

“My Gramma used to say that water seeks its own level. I always found the coolest treasures at Low Tide. The Stuff that got left Behind. Castaways, Castoffs, The Broken, The Orphaned, The Dropped and The Lost. Stragglers who missed the Warning Bell. They called out to me. They knew me by my name, and I knew them by sight.”

“Hi, my name is Darcy and I am a Lost Soul.”

“Hello Darcy”

The group droned in a mocking parody of All Twelve-Step Program introductions before breaking into raucous laughter. She had stood up suddenly in front of the backlit waterfall that had been constructed inside a sort of grotto of Banyan trees that had formed the canopy that shielded it from the sky and sun on even the brightest days.

It was an impromptu audience of maybe six people or so that happened to be in the general area at the time, yet they seemed to chime in as if on cue, or perhaps it was a pre-determined straight line to set up their chorale if and when such a remark presented the opportunity…a comedic wave, if you will. 

They were visibly and audibly self-impressed by the success of this…shtick they had jointly constructed, and it was very obvious that humor was held in the highest regard within this camp. She grinned a sideways banana-eaters’ display of dental hygiene at its best as she shook her head wildly, throwing her long, straight blonde hair in every direction.

It had been six years since she had come to Florida, and this was the first place she had been since she got there that even remotely interested her on this level. It was good to shake off the stuffy airs of pretentiousness that surround most professional research facilities.

They usually failed to effectively account for the ubiquitous wild cards that often gravitate to scientific research in the first place. Next she shook her entire body like a Cuban Merengue dancer, arms and legs wide apart, as if to embrace the world.

At least for a moment, she had found a niche. And if that niche just happened to be a deck full of wild cards she was a whole deck of Queens of Hearts.

“…no offense, but that’s also pretty much the way I find most of my friends….” (To No One in Particular.)

“…and none taken, Darcy. In fact, that is usually the way most of my Parishioners find me. My name is Ashtar. Welcome to the Home for Wayward Souls. My friends call me Ash.”

He had approached her from behind, silently as she spun around at the sound of his voice. He extended his right hand to Darcy, which she grabbed with her left hand as she placed it on her left hip while she grasped his left hip with her right hand, pulling him to her so she could whisper in his ear.

“I’ve heard so much about you from Mark…I will most certainly call you Ash then, as I know we are going to be really good friends.” 

Darcy was on a roll, cocked and locked and ready to rock. Everything about this place exhilarated her, body, mind and soul alike.

With that, she nuzzled his earlobe gently as Ash tried to discern if she really had dragged her tongue across it as she spoke.

Ash blushed slightly as their eyes met, but Darcy just smiled like a Cheshire cat, knowingly, yet ever so enigmatically.

Like perfume on a light summer breeze, Kali encircled Ash and Darcy with a touch as light as a languid, caressing tickle. She was of average height, full-figured, fair of skin and dark of hair and eyes. She focused her attention on Darcy with wide, knowing eyes so affectionate and engaging that Darcy shivered slightly as if her optic nerve had suddenly been short-circuited to her clitoris.

“Mark has spoken so highly of you that I couldn’t wait to meet you. In fact, I planned to visit the Sanctuary on Monday just to find out more about the woman who has captivated our Mark.”

Kali winked at Darcy so slowly and affectionately that Darcy felt as if she was being willingly hypnotized…and seduced. It was a feeling she embraced like a child stepping into the van of a familiar stranger with candy.

“Where ever are my manners? Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Kali and I am just so glad to meet you. Our home is also our retreat…in days long gone, we would have called it our Church, but it has been Ash’s experience that some words are so likely to be misunderstood that they are best not used at all, just to avoid confusion and too many apologies or explanations…the accommodations are not lavish, but you are welcome to come anytime and stay as late or long as you wish. Please feel free to help yourself to whatever pleases you. There is plenty to eat or drink and no shortage of every sort of companionship, conversation, or entertainment you desire…and if you don’t see it don’t hesitate to ask…you may be surprised.”

“Oh yes and one more thing…speaking of labels…some of us may be married to others of us, but we all are also nonetheless co-conspirators of common mind and interests in pursuit of Polyamory. Here there is no need to hold back your impulses, desires, or your heart. Sometimes I come on too strong for some people, but I have learned to trust my instincts…so know that you are among friends, because I want us to be the very best of friends.”

As Kali spoke, it was like listening to the purring of a large feral cat. Her expressions were beguiling, and her movements choreographed by Salome. She held out her arms to embrace Darcy, gliding forward until their bodies touched as Kali flipped her head to the side, simultaneously tossing her hair away from her face and placing her mouth over Darcy’s.

Her lips were full and moist and parted so slightly as her tongue lightly darted out to part them. Darcy lifted her hand to caress Kali’s face. They lingered for a moment as knowing looks were exchanged, and just as suddenly as she had appeared, she was gone, floating away to mingle with the others, leaving Darcy standing next to Ash, her mouth slightly agape, as a slight smile blossomed into a wide grin, her arms hanging by her side. Her face and neck were flushed and she suddenly realized how wet she had become.

Ash smiled and winked at her.

“And that, my dear was Kali. I know her well enough to venture that she is quite fascinated with you, and if my instincts are right, it is mutual. Mark and I are like brothers who share everything together. I would be remiss not to mention that I can see why he is so attracted to you, or that I share your desire that we should be the very best of friends. I applaud your choice of words, by the way…it is an expression that has become something of a term of art here…The Very Best of Friends…Kali could not have heard you, and if she had, would not intend to mock you. It is an expression whose definition you will find, becomes more limitless by the day.”

By the time that Darcy saw Mark again, he was talking with Merle, a pharmacist who worked for PharmaCorp, the parent company that had most recently acquired The Habitat and turned it into a primate research facility. Frederick was gingerly approaching Merle from the safety of Mark’s lap, only to turn and run several times.

For his young age, he was quite adventurous and securely attached, but as soon as he caught sight of Darcy, all other interests were swept away as he ran straight to her, leaping into her arms, and hugging her tightly. Lilith would never have let anyone but Darcy leave the Habitat with Frederick, and it had taken Darcy several months of preparation, with increased duration and distance before she ever dared to go this far away.

Mark had assured her that it was the perfect atmosphere for Frederick, as most of the grounds were landscaped tropical jungle. They both knew that Management would never be able to make a decision to let him off the premises, so they just neglected to ask.

While Darcy and Frederick exchanged signs and kisses, Mark drew Darcy and Frederick into the conversation, introducing Merle in the process.

“Hey, Babe. What do you think about the place so far? Frederick has been flipping out over the foliage, and I can barely keep him out of the trees. I’ve never seen him grin so much, and I can barely keep up with his signing. He’s very excited.”

(Early on they had recognized that the same harnesses that had been en vogue in the 50′s to help restrain children, especially in public places would be the best way to protect Frederick any time they took him outdoors.)

A forty foot leash gave him enough range to roam comfortably, and most of the time they didn’t need it, as he tended to stay close in unfamiliar territory.

“Oh yeah, excuse me Darcy, this is Merle, one of the Pharmacists I told you about. Merle, this is Darcy…”

“Nice to meet you, at last, Darcy…You’re something of a celebrity in these circles, especially since Mark can’t seem to stop talking about you…and now I see why.”

“We were just discussing Merle’s latest discovery…courtesy of PharmaCorp…they were researching a new variety of anti-depressants. Turned out that one of the formulae has a bi-product that is just an analog isomer of the final product. It gets thrown out whenever they make a batch, but Merle discovered…well speculated at first, and it turned out he was right. The primary bi-product produces an effect on the brain that resembles a cross between ‘Molly’ and electrical stimulation of the left parietal region…”

“…the God Phenomenon? Fucking brilliant…wow! Plus pure MDMA? Must be like the best Acid trip you ever had with a side of Yopo…”

“…well, that was a crude analogy on my part…Merle says it has to be experienced to really know…of course. And gratefully, it contains nothing that even resembles MDMA that could get it labeled as such, and it’s not in the least illegal…at least not yet, if we can keep a lid on this…but…Ash has already taken it. In fact he’s on it right now…so is Merle and they are convinced it’s The Sacrament…”

“I prefer to think of it as the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…I keep thinking about the part in the Bible were God says ‘they think they are as we’, also implying a polytheistic view in the beginning of the Old Testament…way before the trinity…some people want to see God…others prefer to be God…in a half-dozen trials so far, it seems to be very flexible…as far as connecting the missing parts of any of our subjective realities…to give continuity to all things you see. I am Blissed beyond description…and charmed by your countenance, I might add.”

Merle spoke in such calm, measured tones that Darcy and Mark hung on every word.

As Merle spoke, he began slowly standing up, or at least it seemed slowly, considering that Merle had been sitting cross-legged on top of a three and a half foot-high-cut tree stump, and simply straightening out his long, lanky legs to stand up looked like an unending process, even though he accomplished the task effortlessly, with the grace of a crane.

He was almost seven feet tall, slightly thin, but wiry and almost too good-looking for a man. He wore a sort of Kaftan, or robe of some kind that bore designs unfamiliar to either Mark or Darcy. 

There was a sort of refined aboriginal look about it, as if it was a synthesis of several systems of hieroglyphs. Darcy and Merle just smiled knowingly at each other.

She smiled reflexively, as she often did any time she saw a man taller than her near-six-foot stance, and he smiled also, because he already knew how she felt…that all people either very short or very tall felt.

The remarks (in good humor, but tiresomely inane), the looks they could feel whenever they stood up, or entered a room, or the isolation that one experiences every time you have to either stand on your toes, bend down, or otherwise attempt to either make eye contact, kiss, or align yourself in some way as to be on their (aka everyone else’s) level.

“It’s a good thing we’re outdoors…Ain’t you one long drink of water?!” Darcy quipped.

“I bet you play basketball…” Merle retorted.

“How’s the weather up there?” Darcy asked.

“If you stand up too fast, do you ever get nosebleeds?”

“Wow! They should put a red light on your head to warn low-flying aircraft.”

“You have the most beautiful eyes…How’s that for one we don’t usually hear?”

Darcy gasped slightly, or perhaps she was afraid she did, as she found herself looking upwards into Merle’s eyes. Egyptian blue, which markedly contrasted his dark, almost black straight hair. Merle was Apache, except for his curiously blue eyes, (courtesy of one of his grandmother’s indiscretions, he was told).

Darcy had become accustomed to only making that kind of eye contact in bed. This was proving to be one of the most interesting days she could remember in a long time, and for her that was saying something.

“At least that is how it appeared to me, and since I live here, take it on good advice, not for nothing considering how much weird shit I see around here all the time, but this day is special…speaking of bad manners, you’d think I was raised in the jungle or something…Please allow me to introduce myself…I am your narrator for this portion of your edification, enlightenment, and entertainment. I am Raul, a Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis).”

(Camera zooms out to reveal that last shot was over-the shoulder POV of small frog clinging to the bark on the trunk of a banyan tree. Next zoom in on eye of frog until all is black…)

“Hey! You don’t need five million dollars worth of special effects to suggest to you what you simply need to imagine, do you?…Go ahead, Reading could use a quantum leap like that in its conceptual development too…and so could we all.”

The Great Experiment

(Zoom out from center of frog’s eye to reveal over-the-shoulder shot of a telemarketing phone center cubby. Raul, our narrator, is on shoulder of one of the Member Care Advocates’ jacket, having hitch-hiked from his place of relative safety and comfort in the jungle, where last we saw him to This Place of Horrors that even laboratory test animals call “The Place Where the Lab Rats go to Die”).

*Please note that Raul is wearing glasses, and a headset with boom mike, and reading the narration that you see here before you….”

“So, what, did you think you were rid of me that easily after such a clever introduction?”

(Frog looks over eyeglasses with raised brow as he extends his left hand, palm up, imploringly as he slightly lowers his script. As he continues, the camera pans the cubby.)

“There is a computer, a flat-screen monitor on a cantilever arm, a physical telephone, (up to) three authorized and approved photographs, approved versions of about eight separate campaign scripts in sheet protectors on single ring binders hanging everywhere, a small dry-erase board, a drink mug, and half a landfill’s worth of food wrappers balled up like tumbleweeds.”

(“Even this is being read by your narrator, Raul, the Frog, who slightly whispers with the dispassionately detached impartiality somewhere between that of an Animal Planet voice-over, and a golf tournament.”)

“Now I understand why they adopted the new, lower cubbies…no place to hide, further enhancing the concept of televised anonymity…you are not special…hit the green light…we see all, we hear all…and we are timing everything you do second by second…focus on this week’s stretch goal…too many personal breaks?…you need to cut down on your fiber and drink less water if you intend to meet expectations…and if you don’t, the sides are too low to even hang yourself. God! I haven’t felt this sense of overwhelming hopeless Despair since that time I snuck into a high-school biology lab.”

“Observe the Telemarketer. Not the portrait of a happy, well-adjusted individual. His face is slack and devoid of enthusiasm. This was supposed to be a summer job, an interim or interlude to get him by until Something Better came along…only it didn’t. How long can you fall before you hit bottom?”

”He used to Dress for Success; suit and tie, the Full Monty. People used to mistaken him for Corporate…now he just barely skirts the minimum allowable limits of the dress Code. For over six months, his screen-saver sported a picture of a quote in German that bore the translation ‘Work shall set you free’ before someone realized it was a photograph of the entrance gate to Dachau, and made him take it down.”

“When I first saw Charles, he had just come to visit THFWS (The Home for Wayward Souls). He had a desperate, exhausted look about him. That was right after he had his nervous breakdown…funny thing, though…call centers like these are one of the few places you can either get or keep a job when no one else will have you.”

“The work place of the Doomed.”

“It didn’t take long for Charles to become a regular at THFWS, or to learn how to channel his disdain for his occupation into an invisible contempt for his addiction to letting his temporary present circumstances determine his state of being. Somehow, the money seemed to come from unanticipated sources when he needed it most, and the rest of the time, he improvised, adapted and overcame (or repaired) with that cavalier air of detached compassion he learned so quickly from Ash, who had worked at the call center a few years ago, while he was trying to get THFWS financially afloat.”

“That, by the way, was before Kali launched her website…it went viral in a big hurry…brilliant concept…it still not only pays the bills (even the legal fees), but may yet make the center financially independent…Yoga, Tantric, Kundalini, or Zen Eroticism…unflinchingly explicit…very sexy stuff for very spiritual people…controversial, and extremely popular, but, I digress….”

“Charles is participating in a ‘program’ (experiment) utilizing pre-recorded loops of anticipated ‘pivots’ using his voice, to be manipulated by ‘qualifiers’ who will not actually speak a word to any ‘targeted’ members ever.”

”The theory being that three ‘Qualifiers’ can support one ‘Closer’ at any given time if allowances are made, as needed to ‘segue’ one ‘closer’s’ lead to another closer by means of what sounds like a ‘warm transfer transition’ (also pre-recorded), allowing the second ‘Closer’ to take over if the first closer is busy.”

”It all sounds ‘Live and In Person in Real-time’, but it’s all covered by probabilities based on research data that generally confirmed that at present, the vast majority of the people who actually answer unsolicited telephone calls from unknown origins are so dim-witted, drugged, drunk, senile and/or delirious, ignorant, and gullible that there really is not a great deal of need to present arguments in a Logic-Driven method as long as they are presented ‘Persuasively’.”

(“Raul continues to provide the voice-over, quips the handsome and witty Raul…” [until he is stopped by a voice in his headset]…”Yes Sir…I understand…no more embellishments or improvisation on my part…I just thought ‘handsome and witty’ helped keep the thing light-hearted…no, no one gave me any such authorization…I understand…it won’t happen again.”)

Raul blinks several times, wipes his glasses, and shakes his head as he reads: “but the most bizarre part of this whole thing is that the ‘Qualifiers’ that are being trained are Chimpanzees and Bonobos.”

”This is an experiment that has been years in the making, first training the primates to sign, then to respond correctly by listening for key words in what appears to be random speech by pressing a switch that is backlit with a particular icon associated with those certain key words at the next available opportunity when the member pauses. The key words are associated not by logical identification, but rather a hierarchy of needs that those words represent on a subconscious level.”

“Anybody gullible enough to answer a telephone survey has contributed to that research on one level or another.”

”The chimp doesn’t need to understand a single iota of what any of it means in order to simply associate a spoken word with a task, but they can quickly weed out the answering machines (press a telephone icon, thereby leaving a pre-recorded message), dead air, (different icon, scheduled for call-back at another time at least two hours later), and hang-ups that occur during the initial introduction.”

“After that, the first few remarks made by the target are to be answered by pre-recorded messages that vaguely sound like they answer the question, but are really ‘set-up lines to ‘soften’ the ‘Target’ while introducing the ‘Need’ by use of the hierarchy outlined earlier.”

”Properly applied, the hierarchy is the equivalent of jangling your keys to distract a crying baby.”

“In this respect, even the most successful and seasoned salespeople are by comparison, ‘loose cannons’ if they try to use Logic to manipulate targets that are NOT logic-driven at all.”

” If the target gets through a specified series of responses, they are ‘handed off’ to the ‘Closer’.”

“ Although this ‘experiment’ appears to have legitimate value, (since primates are owned; they are not hired, and have even less rights that any human toiling in a ‘Right-To-Work’ state like Florida, so their only cost is represented in housing and maintenance) it would be naïve to assume that the real purpose of this project is even related to telemarketing, no matter how firmly their executives will proclaim otherwise, because they actually believe it as well.”

”One corporate moron will receive ‘leaked’ information that Management is looking for something or another in the form of a pilot program to… (fill in the blank) because it needs to look like it came from within, even if its origins are much higher than appearances would lead one to believe.”

“There is no better way to conduct any research than for the test subjects to believe they are participating in something that is totally unrelated to what is actually being measured. Add to that the possibility that the best way to keep top secret research secret is to conduct it as if it were researching something of much more mundane subjects.”

“Think about it…train an animal to take commands, to respond with sign language, to perform specific tasks to monitor computerized responses to specific stimuli…that does not question authority or make random moral judgments…that has faster reflexes, better hearing, and is at least five times stronger than any man…that does not expect a retirement or better benefits, will accept any ‘working conditions’ and will never try to set up a Union…and can be autopsied at any time if it is deemed necessary…who might be interested in something like that?”

” …Who indeed…Remember, that when the Mercury Space Program was being created, the Primates outperformed the Humans on so many levels that it was finally decided to use Humans only for the benefit of public opinion and interest.”

Raul looked like he was starting to recall those memories of that high school biology lab.

Management

You will read the term “Management” numerous times in the course of this story. Although it is somewhat purposely vague, as a concept, it is more important to understand what it represents, rather than specifically whom it is, as the identities are less important than the functions they perform, or why.

First comes Middle Management, the ‘Collaborators’ of all work place functions. The term ‘Collaborator’ was originally a World War Two invention used initially in France to describe the recently defeated citizens (mostly women), who were willing to suck Nazi Cock and/or perform “…any and all other tasks and assignments…as deemed necessary, based upon ‘business needs’ by Management…” for chocolate, nylons, cigarettes and other favors, usually at the expense of the rest of the others who weren’t.

In France, it got your head shaved, while here it gets you a corner cubby, a badge, and other favors. In either case, it represents a person who is willing to sell out their own kind for personal benefit. 

f this seems like an unfair or harsh pronouncement, keep in mind that most Upper Management has read The Art of War, while Middle Management attempts to find new and imaginative ways to spin The Secret or The Power to their subordinates.

Upper Management knows who their enemies are, and conducts their operations like Warfare, while the Employees are encouraged to think positive thoughts to bring positive results by being contented with whatever falls from Management’s Table.

This is not to imply that The Secret, or The Power are not perceptive and valuable texts, but it is only after recognizing the subjugation and victimization practices in Management’s Warfare against their workers, that one starts to look elsewhere to find out how to draw upon their own power by using positivity to affect their own lives.

Ironically, it would seem best to not wage war against Management, but to rather redirect your own positive energies to your own devices.

Middle management wants to have you believe than you can use positive thoughts to get better leads on a computer-programmed dialer that has pre-set parameters called ‘skill sets’ to get better calls, rather than to use it to find better work…preferably something you love that rewards you rather than someone else.

If the analogy of Middle Management prostituting itself to The Enemy seems extreme, then you either have never actually worked in either Upper or Middle Management, or you are sufficiently numb as to not even feel it any more when it is being done to you.

Upper Management can mean a lot of different things, since some corporations have vice presidents in charge of specific functions, who spend their time supervising that operation when they are not creating the perception of a need and justifying their own positions and salaries, often at the expense of the actual operation itself.

Once called Efficiency Experts, Capitating Coordinators, or the like, they have to pay their salaries with the money saved by cuts and reductions in the production staff.

More like Decapitation, it’s a corporate version of Three-Card Monty since Management is not likely to pay someone to spend more money without justifying it by taking it from someone else, and somehow Management prefers the idea of taking it away from the production staff so they can give it to some corporate cocksucker with an agenda.

Further evidence of the contempt Management has for their own staff, as if one Privileged Executive Life is supposed to equal three hundred rank-and-file workers.

This lowest strata of Upper Management are the snake-oil salesmen of their realm, a sort of semi-legitimate version of the ‘Long Con.’ They are generally contracted, rather than hired per se, and as such are often not company employees, but consultants.

These are the guys that can sell a salesman a pipe-dream. They do not stay much of anywhere very long, and are about as useful as a Remora is to a Great White…at least as long as the Shark thinks so.

Then comes so-called Upper Management, most of whom can’t make a decision to take a crap without having “Legal” “look over it” first. Most of them spend the vast majority of their time and efforts just trying to keep their jobs. While they may be felons on any number of levels, they are not true Gangsters. Gangsters in upper management have all the swagger of a Made Man who has somehow leveraged his way into “Legitimate Business.” But even if he is a CEO, he still answers to a higher authority, one way or another.

Keep in mind, that the philosophy that is operant here is a Zero-Sum Game, in which it is assumed that for one party to gain, another party must lose.

Then comes The Government, part of which is also controlled more by ‘Wise-Guys’ rather than Wise Men. One day, along comes the wrong dickhead from the Department of…, or the Bureau of…, “…and they just want to go over a few things…” and even if you are the CEO, you will do as you are told.

They are the Privateers of the business world…just doing the King’s business with Government Sanction…(These guys are also the intermediaries who may get used to manipulate an executive, or an entire corporation on behalf of someone to whom allusions are made, but names are never spoken.)

Bigger corporations often own smaller corporations, and are not above wrecking one company just to benefit the other company, or to simply liquidate an acquisition as a method of securing capital.

Bigger corporations are not above manipulating the government, its people, or their laws for as much as they can for as long as they can get away with it. If you get caught, no big deal…pay a ten million dollar fine for stealing five billion, and it’s no more than “the cost of doing business”

Government is just as likely to manipulate business as well, since even businesses that do not do government contracts know better than to “just say no.”

For these, and many other reasons, even when a business does something that looks too stupid for explanation, the chances are that it was done for other reasons not so easy to understand, by someone with no concern for the operation itself.

Try to imagine a marionette being manipulated by another marionette, who is being controlled by a puppet master.

So when you read that Management has made some decision, keep in mind, that could be anyone from a CEO’s wife to The President.

Whoever pulls the strings.

Merle (as Introduced by Ash)

“I first met Merle when we were enrolled at the University of Florida. He was studying Botany and Pharmacology, and I was enrolled in the Seminary. Back then, we didn’t pay much attention to gainful employment, or even life after college. We were in the moment…back then, our dreams and speculations centered around Utopian visions. Now our visions foretell of the Apocalypse. We both had generous scholarships, and came from the kind of middle-class homes that equated a college education with financial and social success, so there was no shortage of support of any kind. We felt Invincible. Our Needs were few, and we worked at pursuits that seemed to generate as much money as we needed, but didn’t require regular hours or interfere with our studies.”

“I played guitar and acted as front man for a sort of loosely arranged group of musicians that used to jam together. Each of us had our own arrangements, charts, and/or recordings of previous live performances that we would use to provide some identifiable semblance of structure, that we rehearsed in different forms so, depending on who was available at any given time, we could more or less show up at a gig, and just get into it, much like the way jazz musicians perform in some clubs. In a very peculiar way, they were our “Standards”, considering that we had an audience that usually was already familiar with the same influences. I recall someone calling the scene “Art Rock”, or something like that. We could be quite pretentiously unpretentious about form, or genre, and we catered to a very indulgent, but sophisticated audience.”

“It was a college town, so there was no shortage of well-trained versatile musicians, or dives, garages, basement clubs or bars; empty buildings awaiting their next future failed venture, and it was not at all unusual for other musicians we knew to just show up at one of our gigs, and jump right in. Sometimes we would hop from one club or practice session to another, or even crash an out-of-town gig to surprise a “rival” band…not that there seemed to be a lot of competitiveness in what we were doing…we were just doing it. To even get paid at all was great, and we frequently used most of what we got to buy more instruments, and electronics. We rarely ever spent much money on drugs, because there was also no shortage of fans and friends only too happy to see to it that we didn’t want for recreation, companionship, or entertainment. ‘Who Shall Entertain the Entertainers?’ Indeed.”

“From my point of view, any money I got somehow justified all the money I was spending just to play in the first place. I realized at an early age just how much I loved to perform. The Clergy appeared to be a way to perform for an audience that was infinitely more respectable than Rock, or even Jazz Music, and Classical was way too straight-laced to suit my nature. My folks were scientists, and they just wanted to be sure I had something to fall back on, preferably with a Health Care Plan.”

“We also had this shared following/audience of roadies, self-proclaimed agents (anybody who got us a job got ten percent), groupies, friends, zealots, and the most amazing group of hangers-on that I’ve ever known…college used to be like that…an intellectual, spiritual, and sexual Mecca for persons of like mind and aspirations…which leads us to Merle.”

“We called him Merlin the Magician because of his legendary talents with Botany, Chemistry, and Pharmacology, which he used to provide us with just about every sort of psychedelic, hallucinogenic, psychotropic, and stimulant imaginable and make it look like an experiment. He was from Arizona, so he had great access to many plants that were sources of Sacraments to the Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples of North America.”

”As a mixed breed Apache, he genuinely believed he was entitled to ancestral rights in the pursuit of his religion(s), which he had actively studied and pursued since his childhood. He was the son of a Shaman, and was well on his way to becoming an accomplished one himself.”

”As much as each tribe strives to maintain their own cultural heritages, Merle had spent many summers traveling from one reservation to another, to swap magic with other Medicine Men and Brujos, picking up Mojo from every place he went, and eventually leaving a little of his own as well.”

”He called it ‘cross-pollinating,’ as he traveled like the bee, from flower to flower.”

“I had spent so much time and effort studying what I came to call Theoretical Theology that I did not recognize how far I was outside of mainstream religion or anything that remotely resembled any organized religion. I saw no conflict between my pursuit of deviant forms of music, sex, art, philosophy, theology, sociology, anthropology, or my own brand of spirituality and my desire to be a holy man, even if the prospects of finding a church to hire me were effectively nonexistent. Merle maintained that we were already both holy men by virtue of our chosen paths, as well as our actions themselves.”

“He had wisely chosen a career path that would afford him means, and respectability as long as he kept himself within certain legal guidelines. I decided that I would try to conform enough to get hired by a Unitarian Universalist church that provided me with a lot of latitude as far as Theology was concerned, at least until I met Kali.”

“She came to us on the heels of a very ugly, messy divorce down in Palm Beach county that could have rivaled the Pulitzer divorce, had they been wealthier or more notorious. She had been sufficiently wise to get enough Hush Money in the settlement to be comfortable for a while, but she did not demand enough money to bring her future ex-husband into sufficient temptation to consider making her disappear, of which she believed him to be quite capable.”

“As it was there was a bit of tongue-wagging by a few of the more vocal and self-righteous married women within the congregation before Kali arrived, but we all found her to be intelligent, thoughtful, gracious, charming…and beautiful…especially me. We were married within the year, but already the clouds of controversy were looming on the horizon like a storm at sea, and eventually that controversy led to not only my dismissal, but the revocation of my membership in the Unitarian Church as well.”

“During this time, Merle managed to travel and gather experience pretty much wherever he chose, doing consultant work for several pharmacological labs. Whenever he was near enough, he would stay with us in our home. I did counseling and social work when I could get it, as much for the sake of my pride, which Kali respected, despite the fact that we essentially lived off the proceeds of her money and investments, which I largely to this day cannot pretend to really comprehend or understand, but I trust her instincts, as well as her intentions.”

“One time when he came to us, he brought Peyote he had just gathered during his last trip out West. Sometime during that visit, we sort of jointly received what most people, including myself would call an epiphany regarding the source of the controversy leading to my dismissal.”

”Why not build a church around the very Principle that had precipitated my unemployment?” 

“Why not indeed?”

“What has Brought About my Downfall Shall Become my Strength. Make Controversy the building blocks to set around the Cornerstone of my Church, which shall be a spiritual mission devoted to Polyamory, and the Pursuit of Higher forms of Consciousness, and in so doing provide a loving and creative environment of nurturance and support that would effectively channel and direct the same forces that by virtue of their strength can either destroy our culture, our families…even our spirits themselves, or energize and strengthen our thinking, our actions, and our approaches without Fear, Guilt, Sin, or Jealousy by embracing both Love and Sex without reservations or restrictions.”

”To allow and encourage all of us to realize that we possess within us the power of both God and Goddess alike…The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

“If it weren’t for Power, Death, Love and Sex there wouldn’t be any need for any Church at all….”

“You could say that Merle was my Wing-Man, and Kali was Our Angel.”

Kali, Darcy, and Merle

As Mark and Darcy drove Frederick back to the Habitat, it was Darcy who first broke the silence. Gratefully, Mark issued a sigh of relief that went unnoticed by Darcy, who was wrestling with her words and thoughts. Mark really wanted an honest impression of what Darcy had just experienced, unfiltered by Mark’s expectations, and he did not want to prejudice her remarks in any way.

“Mark, I know how much these people mean to you…I wasn’t really prepared for what I experienced…” 

(A fly was suddenly startled by the sound of a pin dropping somewhere in the car.)

“I want you to know just how honored I felt to even be in the presence of some of those people…I’ve spent most of my life rubbing elbows with some of the most intelligent people either you or I would be capable of appreciating, and I don’t know when I have experienced such a transcendent state of enlightenment that just passed as freely as a joint from one person to another…nobody was trying to be ‘heavier’ or ‘deeper’ than anybody else…fuck, nobody there seemed to be trying to outdo anybody else…you must know what I mean…at the lab they act like they are each trying to cling to the illusion that they are the smartest person they know…”

Mark laughed so hard he started to choke, as he just nodded in agreement.

“In all honesty, I was not prepared for any of that…precisely because there was NO pretentiousness, or even piety, as far as I have ever experienced…I probably should have said something sooner, but I was molested by a preacher that was my Daddy’s best friend…I ‘ve got no time for any truck from any religion…” Mark hung on every word until he thought he was going to have a shallow-water blackout. “…but this was nothing like that…nothing like anything I ever knew…I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but there was something about you when we first met…this…knowing…this calm…I fell in love with how you made me feel…they all have that quality…don’t get me wrong…it does not diminish how I feel for you…in fact, I am still in awe that you also have friends like that…and that they respect and love you as much as you do them…”

She lowered her head just so slightly, and almost whispered, “…What I haven’t figured out yet is where do I fit into all this…? I ain’t  all that special, and I don’t think I have a spiritual bone in my body…”

“Would you like one?…I mean I can pull the car right over here…I got a  very special ‘spiritual bone’ that will make you call his name like you were preparing for the Second Coming…Hallelujah!”

“MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmm!”

She squeezed his cock affectionately as she stroked his thigh.

‘In due time, Darlin’ ‘…to everything, there is a season…and a time and a purpose under heaven…” chimed in Mark, (in harmony no less, mimicking the sixth harmony usually carried by Chris Hillman, if I recall correctly).

“Honey…I already know why I love you…why do you love me? What’s the big attraction?”

“Because you make it absolutely impossible not to…just by being yourself. You don’t have to ‘do’ or ‘be’ anything…it’s your nature, as well as mine….”

“So how come I feel…well, some of that feeling with…with all of them, in one way or another?”

“For the same reason they felt that in you…don’t underestimate yourself my dear. By the time you caught up with Merle and me…(and yes, Frederick…yes I know…you too.) we already knew what I suspected all along….”

“What? …and how did you know it?…know what?

“What the whole jungle was screaming, only you haven’t learned to hear it yet…I should have told you sooner, but Frederick has been teaching me telepathy for some time now, and we have been sharing it among a select few of us…and you just passed the test…”

“Excuse my impatience Darlin’ but WHAT FUCKING TEST?!?!?!”

“There is a legend among the primates…of a woman who will liberate their species forever, who will enable the next Quantum leap in their tribes…it’s vague beyond that…you know what their language capacity is…well, their intuitive and spiritual capacities are far beyond that…I don’t want to get too far off the track…Kali is convinced you are ‘The One,’ even though none of us really know what that means…What do you think of her?”

“Kali?” She was stalling, and didn’t want it to be too obvious, but the longer she thought about it, the more she realized she had nothing to prompt her to be in any way guarded in her answer to Mark.

“She…is…just amazing! I have to admit, I was even more taken by Ash than you had warned I would be…it didn’t even feel like I was flirting, but when Kali suddenly appeared, I felt very self-conscious about how…intimate our conversation had become…I felt like she was actually encouraging me, and all the while, I felt like she was…well, seducing me in the most easy-going, friendly way. I feel this incredible curiosity and attraction for her…OK, I admit her sexuality has to be experienced in person to really appreciate…but she made it feel like it was so much more than just that. I kept wondering what it would be like to take a bath with her…girly-sexy-intimate play…and I just met her. How can that be?”

Mark beamed a grin so wide he would have been wise to never show around any woman other than Darcy as he chuckled and shook his head, which ended in a sigh and a wistful smile.

That’s just the way she is…I think I can tell you this, now that you’ve met her…until I met you, I thought I would never experience that with another woman and that Ash was the luckiest man alive…and I wanted to know that feeling…well, for myself. Somebody that belonged with me, rather than to me, and with whom I also belonged….”

“…and yet you’d just share her like a bottle of beer amongst your friends?”

“She would be the one doing the sharing, since I cannot pretend to own her. I would just consider myself fortunate enough to participate as she chooses to share herself with me.”

“Are you saying you would be comfortable sharing me with your friends?”

“No…but only because it would not be my place to presume to own you in the first place. But  I would be honored for you to share whatever you choose with me. If you felt attracted to one of my friends, the real honor would be that you should trust me enough to also share that with me. And I would never lie to you…let’s face it, few things can beat the feeling you get in terms of  validating your attraction for someone than by having your friends…or anyone, for that matter, expressing their attraction.”

“Well…I’ve been to a few ‘orgies’ in my life…they were fun, in their own way, but I didn’t happen to be in Love with anyone at the time…it was very hard to imagine experiencing anything that intimate with more than one person at a time…until I met Ash, and Kali…and Merle. Yeah…I have to admit, he really got to me…piqued my curiosity on several levels…I feel like he ‘gets’ me on more than one level…that doesn’t make you feel jealous?”

“It’s not that I don’t feel anything…in fact, in that regard, my feelings are almost overwhelming…because I Love you so much…and it just reinforces those feelings…reminding me how fortunate I am to know and Love you…and knowing that in allowing you to pursue your curiosity, as well as your heart that you will get everything your heart desires…which means you don’t have to ‘give up’ anything just to be in Love with me…won’t resent me for limiting you. It’s the ultimate Leap of Faith, not only for you, but for myself as well…not to mention my faith in the inevitability of all things to happen as they are supposed to, without the imposition of ‘Willfulness’…of course I believe in Free Will, and sometimes stubbornness or more correctly, ‘Determination’ has its virtues…but to accept the fact that the World will turn, according to its nature, either with or without us means to recognize that there are some things that we not only can’t control, we shouldn’t try to control in the first place…especially the heart.”

“If it all ended today, I could only be grateful for having loved you…for having been given the privilege to know or even meet you at all. I can choose to continue to love you, without trying to possess or control you…my Love for you is my Choice…not even you can take that away from me. My ultimate gift of Love is your Freedom…and every time you return is a gift to me.”

Mark choked more than once, despite the fact that the words seem to flow from him like water from a mountain spring, and a tear or two trickled down his face as he spoke. Darcy was smiling that radiant, beatific expression Mark had come to love so dearly, despite that she also was sobbing like a child. His words touched her more deeply that she had ever thought possible.

Although they were only a few miles from the Habitat, Mark turned the car into a woods road, and they fucked like joyful Hyenas in Heat on the front seat, while Frederick sat in the back and masturbated.

…more on Merle…finally

In a not surprisingly short span, they were both attempting to regain their ‘cum-posure,’ adjusting clothing, as well as the rear-view mirror, and generally fidgeting, giggling, and trying to catch their breath. In the midst of the scramble, they would suddenly, and in unison, grab each other by the face, make an impulsively amorous proclamation and scramble back to whatever they were doing before…(see above).

It was Darcy who spoke first, albeit a tad shyly…“So what is the story with Merle?

“Oh?…In regard to what? …I think I know what you are asking…Merle comes and goes…’Like the bee, from flower to flower…”

“I remember you said he was also a Botanist, but I got a feeling you’re talking about a different kind of flower altogether…”

“Actually, both…inasmuch as he has a knack for free-lancing all kinds of consulting assignments, even networking his projects ..,.and as regards his own personal ‘pollinating’ of various women’s flowers…well, he is very much in demand, but has little time for anything much more involved than casual or chance encounters because he and Kali are very much an item…have been right from the start, even though she met Merle through Ash, when he was making one of his visits. She treats both of them as equals, although she married Ash, and there is no jealousy or competition between them. It’s quite inspiring…”

She didn’t want to blurt it out, but she didn’t seem to be able to contain herself…this whole day had set the entire first floor of her brain on fire, and everyone on the second floor was dancing the Apocalypso, drinking Absinthe, and enjoying the view. “Is Merle going to be around for a while?…I guess he usually stays with Ash and Kali….”

“Would you like for me to invite him for dinner with us next weekend?

Mark smiled in a benevolent, affectionate way that indicated that he not only approved, but understood.

“Just remember the glove also fits on the other hand…in due time…it’s not like I’ve got an understudy waiting in the wings….”.

“I really have to admit…the thought does excite me…I mean, guys like either one of you two don’t come onto my radar screen very often…Did I die and go to slut-heaven? Somehow I don’t even feel embarrassed about this…God! Are you really OK about this?…What should I expect?…I’m babbling aren’t I?

“Joy has a way of attracting more Joy, once you open your eyes to the possibilities…and no, but although you haven’t died, would it really matter if it was like this?…and there is no need to feel embarrassed…if you can drop a deuce in front of me and not lose your train of thought, I’d say you’re ready for about anything. And last but not least, Yes, you  are babbling like a bible-beater on Sunday, but as far as what to expect from Merle….”

He paused longer than she could abide….

“Well…what?”

“There’s a whole lot more there than meets the eye…”

“I Figured he probably has a really big dick…please tell me I’m not wrong about that…I mean, I’ve been around…I’m no little school girl…but I have to admit I’m curious….and he is sooooo tall!”

“It’s enormous…too big for most women in fact…but he has even bigger secrets and surprises than that waiting for you…but you will learn this all in good time, Lover, and I’d hate to spoil any of it, so I have to ask you as a friend, not to ask me to tell you any more…you’ll see in good time, and the suspense is half the show.“

“Just how big?…Enormous? Really?…???”

“You’re letting yourself get hypnotized by one aspect only…trust me, to really get to know Merle is a Mindfuck of Monumental proportions…that you don’t want to miss….”

It was just then that they reached their house, and Mark turned into the driveway.

Kali

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Kali bends over to adjust the temperature of the water for her bath, oblivious to the fact that her every move is being watched by a pair of eyes silently peering in through the bathroom window, high on the wall above her. Her nudity intrigues him as much as does her clothing…such nice, moist smooth skin, soft, but taught…it is senseless to cover it, he muses.

Kali lights a scented candle and then turns off the overhead light. She bends over again to add emollients, oils, and salts as she stirs the water with her hand. Lit by the candle alone, the twin mounds of her buttocks are illuminated, and reflect like two bright moons. His breathing increases rapidly, but she does not hear, yet suddenly, she turns around and stares up at he window, staring straight into the face of her observer, only to smile and “tsk!” as she shakes her smooth, shiny, shoulder-length chestnut brown hair in a way that makes it swirl around her face. She knows exactly how adorable and irresistible it makes her, and she does it for him as she throws him a kiss.

“Raul…you are such a voyeur! Who would think a Cuban Tree Frog would gain such pleasure from viewing me naked…I can only imagine what or who you were in your previous lives…and you are ever so diligent in keeping all manner of insects, mosquitoes, moths, and God-Knows-What away from my bathroom window, safe from prying eyes, save yours…and I do enjoy giving pleasure to anyone who enjoys the sight of my treasures…”

As she is speaking to Raul, gesturing upwards like Romeo up to Juliette’s balcony, Kali playfully drags her nails across her breasts, and then her belly, only to finally drag the backs of the tips of the nails of her middle and third fingers over the smooth labia, trailing downward as she turns her hand over, dragging her first and third fingertips over her mons again as her middle finger lingers just a little longer, furrowing ever so slightly between them.

“I beg you that I may take my leave, dear sir, for I must tend to important matters left unattended in my bath…you can stay for as long as it amuses you.”

As Kali begins to immerse her body into the tub, you would swear you could hear the steaming, swirling waters softly moaning as they enveloped every inch, every fold, every crease or curve of her soft, slightly voluptuous form. The water seemed to love her as much as she loved it, as they caressed and surrounded each other…where water meets industrial-strength organic moisture; wetness meets wetness…intimate spaces and places only the most trusted of lovers would ever touch, or lick…and a few places they might miss, depending….

Kali gently lowered her body even further into the tub, and began to lay back as the waters lapped at her full, pendulous breasts…a bath full of hot, wet tongues, licking her long, prominent nipples arching their backs skyward, her soft belly fully immersed, sliding up to her neck as mists, vapors and tiny clouds surround her face and invade her nostrils, her throat, and her lungs. She sighs deeply as she feels the water try to displace her slightly by lifting her gently to the surface…not floating, of course, but feeling ‘Lighter than a Feather’ as the water buoys her spirits, as well as her flesh.

Tonight, she will be entertaining both Ash and Merle…this does not happen often; perhaps that seems surprising, or perhaps it doesn’t. It just depends on your perspective. Raul , who is something of an expert on the subject, maintains this sort of thing happens mainly on special occasions like holidays…and always on her birthday, or anything warranting Special Attention….

It’s not that Ash and Merle don’t get along…far from it. They enjoy and embrace their strength in numbers…they need it…despite their considerable individual prowess’ as lovers, Kali was capable of channeling so much sexual Chi from both of them, and could seem to store it like electrons in a capacitor, building up a charge of sufficient energy…to achieve the Sublime…the Rapture…The Knowledge…which is not an everyday thing.

So it was decided that since Merle was frequently traveling and more nomadic by nature, and since Ash and Kali were more domestic, that Ash and Kali would enjoy the familiarity and solidarity of everyday life together (including the stressors, and all the rest of the ‘downside’), while Merle, ever the Nomad, would forever be a most welcome Guest, no matter how much they treated him like family.

Merle, who adored Kali in a more reverent, less familiar way was very comfortable with that…he so feared that his relationship with her might become mundane that everything he did helped protect his two best and dearest friends from the Doldrums and Horse Latitudes of matrimonial monotony as well.

Besides, both Ash and Merle had other lovers, most of whom were all known to each other, and Kali enjoyed the occasional tryst with Mark, at least up until he moved in with Darcy…and now she was anticipating getting to know her better…much better, so as much as both men figured into her life, Kali still had time of her own to pursue all of her interests.

She lay her head back in the tub and closed her eyes. She tried to imagine what tonight was going to be like…

Prelude to the Evening

Kali stood in front of the mirror as she dried herself, as if taking inventory of her assets. She carefully studied the effects of the light on her soft, curvy form. How she looked from different angles, or from over her shoulder, twisting her torso, and of course, playfully bent over, looking backwards at herself in the mirror from between her ankles, face upside down, her hair dangling and swishing at floor length.

Kali was not so much vain, as playful, and because of that, her actions were unselfconscious on a certain level. Yes, as an adult, she knew how to photographically catalogue a particular look, or pose, based as much on how she liked to be seen, as what worked for her admirers, her lovers…and for her fans.

She stood all of about four-foot-thirteen and a half, but her figure was so…imposing by virtue of the exaggeration of her features, that each curve in her body seemed to call attention to itself, while contrasting its neighboring feature at the same time.

She was childlike and whimsical, and had learned to be unabashedly unselfconsciously forward and precocious, if that word can ever be appropriate for an adult, and the fact that she kept every square inch of her body smooth and hairless further added to the illusion.

She raised her arms above her head, and giggled as she watched her large, round breasts levitate and swing slightly as she intertwined her arms that seemed to give her head a hug, nuzzling the skin of the inside of her upper arm, looking coyly at her image in the mirror.

Whether she was frolicking like a fawn, or spreading her thighs, she could be both the ageless, shameless Goddess and the naughty vixen at the same time. Part temple prostitute, part Catholic school girl Lolita, part dirty country cousin, wise and innocently curious, she was all women at once.

Imagine your Yoga instructor in crotchless panties, or the first girl that ever showed you her goodies behind the garage, under the porch, or in the tree-house or fort you had just built.

Her complexion was a light mocha, and she had that nebulous sort of ethnic look that could as easily been Israeli, Arab, Italian, Greek, Slavic, Spanish, East , West or American Indian. Her face, like her body was a study of barely controlled generosity. Her cheekbones were high, and her face, including her nose, was just long enough to balance her large, disarming eyes. Her eyes were so dark that you could not tell were the pupil ended, or the iris began, and her lashes were long and dark.

Her aureoles were large, puffy… dark as baker’s chocolate, and her nipples were so large, they looked to be erect all the time, but even the slightest tactile sensation would make them engorge and stiffen until they were as big as the first joint of your pinky finger. She had those National Geographic Titties you couldn’t take your eyes off of whether you were a fourteen year old boy pretending to read ‘the articles’, or a bored adult in the waiting room of the doctor’s office (doing the same thing).

Her thighs and calves could not contain any secrets about her muscle tone as they swelled and receded accordingly any time she walked, or even shifted her stance. Despite her softness and roundness, she was very athletic and strong and gave the impression of a large feral cat, waiting to spring upon her prey.

She was a study of contrasts and contradictions that seemed to change like the fluid landscape of the sea. There was a timelessness to her that balanced the Primal against the Refined, as well as the Sweetness against the Salt. She could be No Woman at All astride Every Woman who has ever been, or ever will be…Tonight.

Her lips were full and inviting, and if she smiled at you, she could make you forget your own mother’s first name, and maybe even your own….

And tonight, along with other anticipated functions, those lips would be telling the two most important men in her life of news she could barely contain, it excited her so. Her web site had finally gone viral…amidst a seemingly minor storm of controversy, and it now looked like The Sanctuary was so secure for funds that they were going to have to enlist the assistance of some serious financial and legal advisors.

A little over a year ago, she had decided to start up a website devoted to esoteric and spiritual eroticism. Throughout her life, she had devoted a great deal of time and effort studying what she had dubbed ‘Sexual Anthropology’ comparing and contrasting the Culture of Lovemaking around the World, including a special interest in the erotic arts.

From the Venus of Willendorf  to Japanese Pillow Books or Persian and Turkish illustrations of Karezza texts, as well as a fair amount of Study of modern erotic art, including film and video, she had studied with the diligence of any serious-minded academician, except that she refused to be any more serious than was absolutely necessary, and sometimes, a great deal less.

Her childlike playfulness was a cultivated art form she had developed the longer she pursued her studies.

What she had found to be most disturbing was the fact that although ancient erotic texts were revered and venerated, albeit somewhat apologetically, (at least among the academicians who knew about them in the first place) they were esoteric and occult to the zeitgeist of modern society, and even more scarce were the few worthwhile modern practitioners’ offerings.

“Its time to take Sacred Sex into The new Millennium and the Internet is just the thing to make that a reality, both practically and financially, and I believe that I can do it in a way that is authentic, spiritually and technically. It has to be genuine…the work of practitioners rather than actors, and devoted to the pursuit of the High Art of Lovemaking while still remaining essentially licentious, lewd, explicitly sexually stimulating…True Pornography minus the stigma.”

Her plan was to link her site to any reference to anyone’s version of Sacred Sex of one sort or another, as well as established types and genres of Modern Eroticism as Art, and providing still photographs of recreations of ancient erotic art and Sacred Sex to full-blown documentary style video depictions, even branching into live webcam performances, although she almost buried it away from common view, as if you didn’t know what to research, you wouldn’t be very likely to find it, and if you did, the website home page would only hint at what lay inside (i.e. you had to be able to read).

And make it expensive, almost prohibitively so, to discourage all but the true believers, at least initially. The real question was if there was a large enough demographic of affluent intellectuals and connoisseurs to support both the site, as well as the Sanctuary. It had been a big gamble that had paid off handsomely.

Kali now represented the new face of Sacred Sex. Only she, Ash, and Merle had even dreamed of the power they had learned to unleash thus far, and tonight was to be a renewed awakening of the Sacred and Pagan Rites…the ways of Majic and Love to be used for Good Only…White majic and more to summons primal energies and spirits, a mingling of minds, and energies from the four winds, the four cardinal compass points, the four elements, the four seasons, the heavens above and the earth below.

Tonight, Kali would be not only the face, but the Altar Herself.

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Earlier that afternoon, Ash and his band, The ArchAngels were rehearsing in the amphitheater  at the Sanctuary for Saturday night‘s performance, as well as Sunday’s, which was much the same as Saturday’s, except for the fact that on Sunday, the content and material were less intense, and more family-oriented. Ash believed that he could still present the same message on Sunday as he did on Saturday night, but make it shorter, more concise, and more accessible to children, as well as some of the adults.

Ash had very successfully managed to combine the formats of Christian Televangelism and a Vegas-Style nightclub act featuring a band that played in the Rock and Jazz idiom, along with Late-Night Television-styled interviews with everyone from Buddhist monks, Islamic leaders, New-Age religious zealots, notable literary Atheists, Philosophers, Taoist and  Vedic Gurus, experts on health, fitness, and nutrition, martial artists, and other musicians, to just about anybody that Ash found to be interesting who was also interested in being interviewed by Ash, who was gaining a reputation as an intelligent and perceptive vehicle for getting more obscure or less-than Mainstream opinions and points of view into the public eye without pandering to stupidity or ridicule.

Although he often opened with a monologue like a late-night TV show, he always saved the best part for the finale, (which most would usually regard as The Sermon), which he used to launch into a song that would be written especially for that week’s message. He often tried to engage the audience/congregation in the song in a Gospel-styled kind of hallelujah chorus to give them something to take away with them that might stick in their minds, like an ear-worm; something to shut out the commercial jingles and TV theme songs, maybe even remind them of the message.

He took all his chances on Saturday night, which was usually a three to five hour show, so that he could do a sort of “Best Of” performance that ran about an hour on Sundays. Almost all of the interviews were conducted during the Saturday night show, and videotaped, so they could be edited and even projected onto a large video flat screen that flew above the Stage/Altar for the live audience. 

The Sunday performances were being picked up by a local-access cable television channel, although they ran it late at night, in order to avoid the wrath of the Moral Majority, and other Protectors of Childhood Ignorance and Superstition.

Ash had been very careful to make sure that his congregation was prepared to accept the fact that parents should not be embarrassed about healthy sexuality or afraid to address complex intellectual or philosophical questions with their children. Ash also believed that everyone has to figure out what is true, or meaningful for themselves.

Given his vast knowledge of belief systems, although he was compelled to present all the information and knowledge he had acquired to his congregation, he was adamantly opposed to issuing dogma about what was right or true for anyone else. He was merely the messenger.

He did a great deal of family and personal counseling to help them make their own decisions, but ultimately, it was up to them. So much information has been suppressed by one church or another, that it is often difficult to even know where to look for answers, or even information to make a conscious choice, and you are sure as hell are not likely to find it on TV, except maybe Ash’s show.

Ash was the son of a Lutheran Minister with a congregation in a wealthy suburb in Wisconsin, but he no longer considered himself to be a Christian, because he no longer considered himself to be exclusively Christian, and that was apparently not good enough for most Christians who did.

He had gone through what most people would call a crisis of faith while he was still  in college, studying for the seminary, and so it was that Ashton Mueller ended up with a Doctor of Divinity, a pseudo-Nazi surname, and  little hope of finding either a specific religious affiliation, or a congregation…until Merle provided the inspiration (also by way of Kali)  to provide a means for his followers to seek a path of higher consciousness not dependent upon the interlocking series of lies and manipulations that supported the religious and political Zeitgeist of Modern Man, and in the process, Ashtar was born.

He was tall and had a very Nordic-Viking sort of look about him. His hair was long, straight and dirty blonde. He was lantern-jawed, and his chiseled features were darkly tanned by the South Florida sunshine, which he worshiped religiously. He was long-boned, muscular, and very tastefully tattooed with a number of religious icons or talismans. 

It often seemed like every woman, young or old wanted to fuck him, and every man wanted to be his friend.

He and Kali liked to go to Haulover Beach, a nudist-friendly section of oceanfront located on the Northern-most edge of Dade County, just south of Fort Lauderdale, where they were usually accompanied by an entourage of members of his congregation.

He was often quoted as having said that he felt much so more relaxed standing in front of his congregation clothed after having stood naked in front of many of them at the beach, that he began offering Sunrise Services right there at Haulover.

Ash stood in the center of the stage as he listened to the last echoes of the band bounce off the walls of the empty amphitheater staring out into the blackness. The band was tight, and this week’s material was well-suited for his sermon, entitled The Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

He had been a big fan of Coleridge’s work since high school, and the theme of his message was about not only about lost faith and hope, but also how that fit into maintaining the Majik that allowed couples to stay in love for a lifetime.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge of course was writing about what it takes to make literature alive and connected to the reader, and how the story transported the reader out of his analytical mind into a state of being that became one with the story.

In much the same way, Ash wanted to transport his congregation out of their mundane, analytical, rational, marginal existences into a world that embraced a Joy that continued to unfold, blossom, and bear fruit. There are all kinds of reality, and not all of them are mean or minimalist.

Ash always preferred to rehearse his sermons in the amphitheater, with the PA system and the assistance of his sound man, Lothar. The volume gave him what he called ‘Big Balls,’ and an entire rack of digital special effects gave it the ambience he liked to provide his own particular version of The Willing Suspension of Disbelief, including, surprisingly, canned laughter, which helped him rehearse, which he also liked to consider ‘seed laughter’ to help keep up the pace during the live performances, including signs that prompted Applause, or Moan that also flew above the stage.

The rehearsals were more casual, and were generally improvised, but when he put on the headset to practice the sermon, he did it like ‘The Whole World was Watching,’ and Ash always said, “If God really is watching…let’s give him a good fucking show.”

Today was no exception. He had high hopes for later tonight, and he really projected that hope and enthusiasm into his delivery to his favorite audience…his band. He loved playing to the ArchAngels, because although they always got his most obscure and offbeat references, they also gave him the feedback he needed to keep it real…He took a moment to get in character, and to wind up for the pitch.

He considered his voice to be an instrument, just like his guitar…only more like a baritone sax…

The Archangels broke into You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here (well so am I) by Frank Zappa, playing only the first eight bars, then abruptly stopping. (This was a fairly common theme that they employed to open Ash’s sermon that Ash and the band often referred to as Introductus Interruptus.)

“There’s something I’d like to share with you all tonight, because it suddenly came to me as something of a revelation I experienced while I was in the Shower this morning. (Laughter)…No I’m serious…I’ve shared that with many of you before, that I get some of my best ideas in the shower (More laughter)…I can see where your minds are going tonight…And good for you! That means you’re still Alive, and Playful, but to move on, last night I had been reading about The Palace of Kubla Khan, both the unfinished poem, and many things written about it over the years…” (Loud Snoring sound bite blares out over the PA)…(Laughter) ”…but to get to the point…Samuel Taylor Coleridge once wrote how part of what constituted good literature, in his opinion, required the Willing Suspension of Disbelief,  whereby the reader is given sufficient provocation to suspend the mind’s analytical tendencies long enough to accept and assimilate the story, transporting the reader to a place outside the common mind, Where Anything is Possible, and freely accepted as real and true, at least for that moment, The Ever-Present-Never-Present Moment, which is where we all come in…”

“You can take your analytical brain far enough into Quantum Mechanics to find reasons to believe in many different versions of what we call Reality that closely mimic any number of belief systems based upon Faith.”

“There is a symbol that has been a trademark of more than a few movements (…and an unknown number of tattoos) that involves the image of a Snake Eating its own Tail, called the Uroboros. It has been used to symbolize the conversion of matter into energy, and even the conversion of energy into matter, rebirth, and even the spiral verbal presentation style of the Aboriginal Fireside Talks.”

“Another way to look at it is this: If All Things Return to the One, to Where Does the One Return?”

Ash touched the tip of his thumb to first the index, then middle, and finally both middle and ring fingers of his right hand, with the thumb on the bottom, palm facing down…he watched his hand perform the pantomime like it was a puppet performing there for everyone, smiled, and shrugged, dropping his hand beside him as he returned his focus to the “audience” not due to arrive until tomorrow night…

“Funny how each of those hand gestures form a Zero, even though each one has a different possible implication of its own…but the answer would still appear to be Zero…even the One returns to Zero. Hmmmmmmm! But as always I digress…”

“In most belief systems, everything leads back not only to its origin, but its polar opposite, like Yin encircling Yang. Scientific research can lead us away from our faith in one form of Religion as well as toward faith in something else. Even Science presupposes to ascribe to dogmatic and axiomatic beliefs that cannot be empirically proven outside of itself…Faith in Science…. “

”Sometime later, I will share a rant or two about how Physics, especially Astrophysics, Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics lead me from Despair to Rapture or if you will, how the road of Excess lead me to the Palace of Wisdom.”

” But just for now, digressions and all, I would like to present an idea that may give you pleasure to pursue all the way back to your own palaces.”

“It is this; To Be the Hero of One’s Own Hero is to Steal Fire from the Gods. (This slogan appears on the flat-screen projection above the stage, quoting the source, a Navajo wedding vow). Think about it. When two people enter into a marriage, if both are equally committed to the other to ensure that whatever that significant other of yours wants or believes, you will do everything within your power to help them achieve; it does not matter if that world that you two create within and between yourselves is something the rest of the world considers to be a delusional fantasy, as long as you both can continue to maintain that reinforcement of Reality as you see it.”

“About a year ago, I was discovered by a member of the self-proclaimed, self-righteous Moral Majority and pronounced as be the Man Farthest Outside of the Religious Mainstream in All of America…and my career skyrocketed. His attack included my wife, Kali, whom he described as a witch: “The Pornographic Priestess of the New Sodom and Gomorra”, and as a direct result, her website went viral.”

”He never bothered to explain how he found her website in the first place, by the way, since she had purposefully tried to obscure it from the Ignorant, the Superstitious, and the Salacious or Malevolent. Business was never so good before that, and so Kali and I decided to donate ten thousand dollars of our own money to the Church of my self-proclaimed enemy, which proves that whatever you focus your energies upon, you strengthen and energize it, even with hatred or anger, and we were most grateful for his support.”

”In My world, the louder he denounces me, the more of his flock that are driven to me. Of course there is more than enough room in this world for both of us to prosper, so I wish him every good fortune. The more he attempts to draw attention to himself in denouncing me, the more my congregation increases.”

“It appears that there are a lot of people who crave the fellowship of others in search of not only earthly happiness, but also Communion with some sort of Higher Consciousness or Higher Power, who doesn’t try to convince them that God somehow does not want them to enjoy oral or anal sex, or even share that love with others who love them as well.”

”We seek Union with something larger than just ourselves, as well as each other. We already know that there are no shortage of swingers’ clubs around here in South Florida, but there are also a lot of people who would also attend some kind of church as long as it didn’t mean you had to get up early on Sunday morning, just to be damned and berated for what you did on Saturday night…tends to make me believe Poor Mr. Preacher ain’t gettin’ no satisfaction, either from Mrs. Preacher, or anyone else…”

”Nothing like Envy or Jealousy to bring out the moral prick in almost anyone. (Band launches into eight bars of The Stones’ ‘(I can’t get no) Satisfaction’ and pulls out hard…’Musicas Interruptus’…)”

“Now just in case you find yourself asking ‘Brother Ash, are you suggesting…?”

“…are you saying…?”

“…that a lot of the self-proclaimed Modern Holy Fathers need to get laid?”

(Snare shot, kick drum and crash cymbal, damped)

“Hell Yes! That’s exactly what I am saying! “

“When I look at most of those people, I think to myself…Shit! I can’t imagine any of those people fucking anybody…even each other!”

(Laughter as the Band break into eight bars of The Apocalypso, an original piece.)

“Hey! Thanks, I’ll be here all night, and don’t forget to tip your waitress…”

(Camera slowly zooms in for Extreme Close-up)

“No, seriously, that’s what The Home for Wayward Souls is all about…a Sanctuary for Lost Souls of Common Mind. I’m not saying you have to be either a Sodomite or a Swinger…or even both…but if you are, we will still love you, because We Like the Way You Think…and it’s a great way to hook up with other people who do too.” 

Another rim shot on the snare, kick drum and damped cymbal crash, but no laughter.)

(Camera switches to ‘Head and Shoulders’ shot.)

“We often talk about ‘Communities’, like Swingers, The Gay Community, or the BDSM, or GLBT as if we all lived in the same neighborhood (although sometimes we do, and never know about it…), but here, no matter who you are, or where you live, this is Your Home.”

(Band launches into The Apocalypso again, and plays it through the first chorus. The flying flat screen starts to project the final lyrics for the evening, which first Ash, then the rest of the band began to sing.)

“First, I want for all the men to sing along with me:”

“I woke up this morning and I said to myself,”

“I must be the luckiest man on the planet…”

“And every day, my Spouse and my family…”

“Wake up and do everything they can…”

“To prove me right…”

“And I do the same for them.”

(Ash claps his hands as he lets his electric guitar slide around to his back, still suspended by its wide leather strap.)

“Now I want all the women in the audience to sing along with my Soul Chorus, Ladies Please:”

“I woke up this morning…”

“And I thought to myself…”

“that I must be the luckiest woman…”

“In all the world…”

“And every day…”

“my Spouse and my family…”

“do everything they can to prove me right…”

“and I do just the same for them.” 

“Now I want the children in the audience to sing along with the Archangels:”

“I woke up this morning…”

“and I thought to myself…”

“that I must be the luckiest person…”

“in All the Universe…”

“and every day…”

“my parents do everything they can…”

“to prove me right…”

“and I do exactly the same for them.”

Now everyone (in Ash’s mind, at least) is standing, clapping their hands and doing a dance that Darcy had shown him earlier, that she called ‘The Bandaloop,’ or (something that sounded like that)…and the Archangels did everything they could to make him look good, and sound good, and prove him right, because he did everything he knew how to return the Love right back to Everyone.

******A work in progress*****

(An aside from the author)

It’s Sunday morning…just barely…and I have been up for a couple of hours. It seems…it feels like my latest project is developing well. No matter what I think I will use as a theme for the latest chapter, the final product seems to take on a life of its own, which I consider to be a good thing because I no longer feel like I am forcing some set of ideas into the story, but rather that I am extracting a story that is already out there, somewhere, waiting for me to chronicle. I hope it does have a life of its own….

Almost all of my posts for the last six months are related to this project, whether they are titled The Home for Wayward Souls, The Talking Monkeys or a number of poems and other entries, like my posts on Polyamory, In Search of Cinnamon or The Crush, because it seems that whatever I write begins to manifest itself and roost within my private life, which is becoming more than I had ever hoped before…to see my dreams materialize….

Whether I was trying to create in the medium of Music, Visual Arts, or Words I have often felt as if I was intercepting some kind of code, like ‘Venus Gas Music’ that comes to me like radio waves, if only I choose to listen.

Emerson (Ralph Waldo, not Keith) once wrote how genius stands hand in hand, and one shock is felt the whole world round…I wouldn’t know about genius, but ingenuity and creativity are subjects upon which I feel qualified to comment. I thought the other night that perhaps whatever it is that represents the vital life force within each of us that leaves the body when we die becomes the dreams we dream and the ideas we entertain.

Perhaps as we host those ideas and dreams and conjure our own visions from their inspiration we breathe Life into Energy, as well as momentary Immortality into our Ancestors…Immortality Extension?…It’s just a thought.

I hope you find this story entertaining as it unfolds; it is now my Journal.

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The ArchAngels

Most of the members of the ArchAngels were college buddies Ash had known for years. When The Home for Wayward Souls became financially self-sufficient, Ash began contacting them to make arrangements to put them all on salary on a full-time permanent basis.

Their talents and skills ranged from ‘professional’ musicians who were proficient sight-readers who fully understood the fundamentals of Harmonization and Theory who had been schooled, to players who were strictly ‘by ear’ but who possessed an uncanny knack for keeping up with everyone else who nonetheless provided a great deal of originality and innovation that often took the best skills of the schooled musicians to interpret into charts and arrangements for the entire band.

Although the original ArchAngels rarely ever performed in any configuration larger than about seven members at any one given time, their repertoire was gleaned from over two dozen regulars, some of whom would appear at the last minute and simply ‘sit in’ with the rest of the band who had rehearsed during the week.

In similar fashion, the new, improved ArchAngels who performed on a weekly basis and rehearsed on a daily schedule were often augmented by guest players who were not paid who were usually long-time friends of Ash, as well as occasional guest stars who sat in just for ‘shits and giggles.’

The Sanctuary was fast becoming known as a haven for innovative musicians and a prime venue to showcase their talents, as well as to just enjoy playing and exchanging ideas among the Avant-Garde of their field.

Although Ash had studied several semesters of Harmony and Theory in college and was not only a proficient player, but a skilled writer, the ArchAngels were like a comet that Ash had hitchhiked a ride from, and as bandleader, he often referred to himself as ‘The Tail that Wags the Dog.’

He was as grateful to act as host, (just to be a part of a band that was this good) as his band members were to having a regular gig that paid reasonably well and provided healthcare and retirement benefits in a field where that had been previously unheard.

Ash and Kali both considered the ArchAngels to be their family, and they were frequently guests for meals and other occasions. When there were sufficient guest quarters available that were not being used by either guest speakers or out-of-town celebrities, they were often in use by members of the band, who might not even leave the compound for days at a time.

His background singers, the Soul Chorus came from every genre, but all had to be proficient and knowledgeable in Gospel. As long as they could harmonize, improvise, and hit the right notes, they all brought something unique to the mix.

One of the sopranos was schooled in opera, and had tremendous range and discipline, but could get funkier than a Baptist minister’s scrotum in July when the occasion and need arose.

Most were either rock or jazz vocalists, but with that much talent, there was no room for prima donnas, and as a rule the ladies quickly learned you either had to get along or get out because if it wasn’t fun, and if it didn’t seem effortless, the whole point would have been lost.

The percussion and rhythm section bordered on organized chaos, because they frequently used two complete trap sets, congas, timbales, gongs, marimbas, chimes, vibes, tubular bells, steel drums and just about every other sort of noisemaker or toy that might appeal to a percussionist’s tastes.

These ‘drummers’ were by far the most animated, energetic, and childlike members of the band. They could get a little unruly or out of control at times, but they were also the driving force behind almost everything that they performed, and seemed to take it upon themselves to ensure that everyone was having a great time.

They also tended to be practical jokers that favored sight gags and physical comedy, which they often carried out extemporaneously during the performances, especially on Saturday nights. It also was not uncommon for the members of the rhythm section to trade roles, even in the middle of the performances, jumping around and changing instruments or seats without warning.

Raphael, the bassist was the unofficial leader of the rhythm section because he was well-liked and good-natured enough to keep up with their shenanigans, but also highly respected as a musician who had an uncommon presence to him that could have been menacing were he not so affable. He made it easy to do what he told you to do, but if you veered off course too far you risked bringing out the gunnery sergeant in him…not a person you would want to piss off.

Neville was a Rastafarian who shared the stage with Grant, a die-hard Metal Rocker who claimed to be somehow related to Aynsley Dunbar, but nobody cared enough about to either refute or verify. The longer Grant was with the ArchAngels, the less he seemed to need to mention it; besides, he was becoming something of a star in his own right.

Yoshi was a true master of tuned percussion from vibraphone to every manner of bell or chime, including steel drums, sometimes doing duets with Neville.

Grant was the only member of the rhythm section that looked like he was chained to his seat.

Neville and Yoshi would practically fly from congas to tympani and back while Grant laid down a backbeat as regular as railroad ties. Sometimes Neville would play counter rhythms on his trap set giving certain original pieces they had written a decidedly jazz polyrhythmic feel. It was also not unusual for them to press other members of the band into service if they were not actively playing their assigned instrument at the time.

The keyboardists were more like orchestra conductors, given the fact that they not only coordinated pianos, organs, synthesizers, and string ensembles, but they generally wrote the charts for the reeds and woodwinds.

Karan also played viola and cello, as well as flute, and on occasion even performed on trombone, making you think of Glenn Miller (but only if you were either old enough, or happened to be a musicologist). She had what is sometimes called perfect relative pitch, because she had a very keen ear for intervals and could almost instantly identify which instrument…or voice was sharp or flat, but could still reference all the pitches, even to an out-of-tune piano if necessary.

Ian was her perfect co-conspirator, and an understudy of hers who had been taking piano lessons from her since he was eight years old. There was an unspoken language that passed between them in the form of music that, so matter how polyphonic or abstract the tonality of one or the other one got, they effortlessly resolved the harmonies in a way that Ash described as a musical uroborus, although Karan preferred to call it ‘soixante-neuf harmonization.’

Given her proclivity for…well, let’s just call it mischief; it was no secret that her best student had been studying a myriad of things under her tutelage, and although he was almost twenty years her junior, he was not the least shy about offering that “We make Music like it was Sex because we also make Sex like it was Music.”

Red played tenor and baritone sax, occasionally both at once, like Roland Kirk. A self-described electric be bopper who got his nickname because of his long strawberry blonde hair; no one had any idea how old Red really was, because to listen to him talk, you would think he was at least seventy, just by his fixation with fifties jazz and its jargon (everyone was a cat to him, for instance), but he had all his hair although his face had that bronzed appearance that no one except George Hamilton or a homeless person gets, including the leathery wrinkles.

Mutton chop sideburns almost met the walrus/Foo Manchu mustache offset by a soul patch under his bottom lip. The only time anyone had ever seen him without his sunglasses and his hat was when Ash and Kali went to visit him in the hospital right out of surgery…still recovering from the anesthesia, they gave the hat and glasses back to him by way of the ER, knowing it would be his first request.

He even swam in the pool in his hat and sunglasses, and it was rumored that he bathed and showered in them, although Sonja, his mulatto Puerto Rican girlfriend who put him in the Emergency Room after she stabbed him was unavailable for comment as to whether he slept or screwed with them on.

It would only be a short matter of time before there would be a new expert on the subject, however, if any of them had been curious, since Red rarely ever was found wanting for female companionship for any significant length of time.

Ishmael played alto and soprano saxes, clarinet, and flutes, and had degrees in both Mathematics and Physics, as well as Music. Ish was a germophobe, although he was quick to point out to anyone who called him one that the more correct term was Mysophobia, (fear of uncleanliness).

He carried a battery powered ultraviolet light with him everywhere, scanning for evidence of the presence of bodily fluids. It was embarrassing to be somewhere in public and witness him scan all the adjacent surfaces within his reach, but it was also disturbingly unsettling to watch him repeatedly confirm his worst suspicions and thereby make them ours as well.

The truth is, most of us really don’t want to know all the things we touch that are somehow contaminated by urine, mucous, semen, vaginal alluvium, saliva, dander, miscellaneous insect debris, hair, sweat, blood, and feces, otherwise you’d be as afraid to get out of bed, as to stay in it.

He was also a Sephardic Hasid. He felt out of place no matter where he went, until he joined the ArchAngels. The characters he encountered were perhaps a bit more bizarre than out in the rest of the world, but here he was respected in his own right as much as everyone else, so it was easy to do the same for them.

Since Ash was the bandleader and front man, he got plenty of opportunities to play flashy guitar solos when he wanted to, but Zack was really the HMFIC when it came to all matters pertaining to the playing, caring and feeding of the electric guitar.

Originally from Nashville, and a master of everything from Country to Rockabilly, to Jazz to Metal, Shred, Grunge, and everything Jimi Hendrix, Eddy Van Halen, or Joe Satriani ever played, he learned electronics and avionics during a brief stint with the Air Force during his late teens and early twenties, sighting ‘creative differences’ as the reason for his departure as soon as his tour was up.

He drank a bit too much and practically chain smoked marijuana. He was trained in Shuri-Ryu Karate, an avid firearms aficionado, and a Zen Buddhist/Taoist who referred to himself as a Pacifist, although in truth, he was less Pacific and more Fist.

He could somehow snap from being one of the most good-natured and patient individuals you could ever hope to meet to going right to the brink of physical violence without batting an eyelash or even raising his voice if threatened.

It was spooky to observe. It was like he flipped a switch in his head that went from Poet to Warrior, but he rarely displayed any anger in the process, just resolution, acceptance and a certain degree of regret.

He regarded violence as a ‘sad reality,’ but refused to be a victim. He was a Zen Dharma Bum, part Redneck, part Shaman and Visionary, full-time Hedonist. He met Ash in a Dojo in North Miami Beach and they had been friends ever since.

Add two Roadies, Otis and Mickey, plus Lothar, the sound man and electronics wizard. The ArchAngels. Travel agents to a higher reality where Escape Velocity is Ground Zero.

Charles

Charles raced back to his cubicle to avoid any additional occurrences being recorded on his schedule adherence record. On a fifteen-minute break, he was allowed a one minute “grace period” before he accrued half a point. Anything up to three hours was also half a point. Beyond three hours was one point.

Sixty-One Seconds late for work was half a point, up to three hours; no doctor’s note, traffic citation, accident report or note from your mother made any difference; if it was an ‘Unscheduled Event.’ you took your half a point, no exceptions.

If you clocked off your computer more than three minutes before the end of your shift, you got half a point, but if you were smart, you waited for your supervisor to clear you after it was established that there were no more calls in cue.

A supervisor could make your life a living hell if they did not actually like you, because by PharmaCorp’s rules, you were already fucked by definition, since you were only tolerated by The Management for as long as you didn’t bring too much attention to yourself, made them money, and didn’t cost them any more than anybody else.

It was not at all unusual for an employee to receive an ‘Atta Boy’ (from a member/customer/patient), only to have the call reviewed by a member of the Quality Management Team, and receive negative, derogatory, or disciplinary actions to be put in their file, to be used at corrective action hearings, or during yearly evaluations, when your pay raise, if any, was determined. Keep your head low…Stay below the radar at all times.

For every Memo or SOP, there is its antithesis, waiting, to be sited by Management, at their discretion to fit whatever agenda suits their purposes at that time. No Exceptions (…except at the sole discretion and express stipulation of Management, as determined by them, at any time, and without any further warning or written change of policy).

Charles had acquired IFMLA (Intermittent Family Medical Leave Act) certification for a short laundry-list of medical conditions that had been documented since he began to work for PharmaCorp.  If he was going to be late for work, or needed to take off too much time for his own doctors’ visits in addition to a number of other medical conditions for which his wife was being treated, as long as he had an adequate supply of PTO (paid time off), he simply needed to call out on the Attendance Line, call his supervisor, and then log onto an automated response telephone line run by an independently-owned contractor that took about fifteen minutes to record, if everything went well the first time…it usually took almost thirty minutes, even if you were prepared with the claim number, ID number, password, date of claim, time of claim, and type of claim.

It was not at all uncommon to have the automated response system inform you that they had no record of that claim, and then disconnect you without warning or recourse. If it required being referred to a live person, that time would usually last about an hour.

Believe it or not, although by comparison, Charles had learned how to use the system to his benefit; it still required him to document illnesses and conditions he had acquired while working for that system, and even then, your lunch and other scheduled breaks could get you fired. Twelve points in twelve months equals termination.

Last week, an associate of his had been fired without warning for too many accruals. Just like that. Came to her desk right after lunch and Security escorted her away to (In)Human Relations for a meeting, while another supervisor cleaned out her personal belongings from her desk, placed them into a white cardboard archives box, and handed them to her as she left the office, once they told her she was fired. No previous incidents, So sorry. Just like that.

Eight years earlier, he took the job thinking it was a temporary alternative… (to being unemployed). Freedom Medical Supply was then bought by Rexco, who was then bought out by PharmaCorp, his current employer.

Four years earlier, he suffered a general nervous breakdown. Anywhere else, he never would have been able to keep his job. Here, hardly anyone noticed. He had been up and down so many times he lost count. Eighty thousand dollars in commissions, plus over thirty thousand in salary and overtime in one year, but less than half that amount a year later.

Sixty grand gross the next year, and half that the next. He was back on the upside for about the last year, but any good fortune that came along just made him hold his breath as he prepared for the next shit-storm…not if, but when….

He often referred to himself and his peers as ‘Lab Rats.’ As he saw it, they all were participating in a carefully controlled experiment in Human Engineering, to see exactly how much productivity could be extracted from a human being before it was officially documented and proven to be inhumane.

Fuck the MLD (a pharmaceutical reference to the median (lethal) dose needed to kill one-half of its recipients.)…just wait until Congress decrees it to be inhumane, and then just claim ‘Who Knew?’

Just like the tobacco companies, except that in this case, psychological harm and mental impairment are very difficult to track and document in terms that the courts would find to be meaningful or significant.

Similarly, being able to link cardiac, cancer, or diabetic diseases, or even erectile dysfunction to stress might prove to be even more difficult, no matter how obvious it appeared to the doctors who treated those employees.

The healthcare insurance that PharmaCorp provided was a PPO, and the network providers in general had a distinct proclivity for avoiding addressing the issue in the first place.

Most of the providers worked in the same building, and were sub-contracted by a single Management and Payroll contractor. It doesn’t take too long to realize upon what side your bread is buttered. Risk Management (Damage Control) Divisions work hand-in-hand with Legal departments to push that envelope as hard and as far as possible, using seemingly unlimited resources and funds to discourage any challenges, even to what would have been regarded as flagrant violations of several civil rights and liberties formerly believed to be Constitutionally guaranteed.

How much time was spent on ‘personal non-work’ (Bio-Breaks)? Management knows…to the second. How much time was actually spent ‘talking’? It’s also timed to the second automatically…. What was your “wrap-up time”? Tick, Tock, Tick Tock….What is your Adherence? How many conversions? What is your ratio of Rx’s per hour? What is your work percentage?

Better hurry up, the clock is ticking, the recorder is documenting…Charles began to joke about ‘Repetitive Thought Injury,’ calling it ‘Cerebral Tunnel Syndrome.’ All verbal responses, even the rebuttals, were very tightly scripted. If you stuck close enough to the script, you could even type while you rattled off paragraph after paragraph of required statements, legal disclaimers and other verbal mantras that no longer required mentation to recite.

The script was the doctrine and dogma of the call center, and all heretics were subject to be burned at the stake (at the sole discretion of Management).

He would awake from bizarre dreams involving programs that wouldn’t open, or screens that populated with inappropriate information, all the while chanting the script. Then he started to notice that he couldn’t recall familiar names or words or terms that once sprang from his tongue like flushed quail from a bush…or his own phone number…or the name of an old friend.

It was the brain’s version of Repetitive Motion Injury. He speculated it was from excessive stimulation of specific sets of neurons causing a build-up in acetylcholinesterase in response to high levels of acetylcholine caused by the rapid-fire stimulus-response mediated reactions to a very limited number of stimuli, but that was just his own best guess.

After all, he was just a retired paramedic, not a neurologist. It just seemed to him that it was too much like stepping on the gas and revving the engine with the brakes locked and the transmission in gear. And that never even took into account the effects of SS/NRI (selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) that so many of his colleagues, as well as he were taking for depression.

Charles once described the effects of these ‘next generation’ anti-depressants as like experiencing a home invasion of your brain at the hands of party crashers you never met before, or having homeless people set up housekeeping in your attic.

He also began to realize the effects of the two-edged sword of stress and depression upon his general, as well as his mental health. Eventually he realized that after he could no longer feel anger over the daily offenses to his character and intelligence, the depression would set in. For a long time, those seemed to be his choices, Unruly Anger or Compliant Depression. Eventually, humor proved to be his saving grace, although it frequently got him into trouble with Management, or rather middle-management, who became his nemesis over his ‘attitude,’ fearing that it might ‘corrupt’ the other employees.

Charles no longer possessed the ability to feel Fear the way he had once felt it before. For one thing, Romance was back in his life in a very real way, and he and his wife were back in love and back on track as a joint entity in a way they had never experienced before, after over twenty years of marriage and three children, no less.

Over the years, they had grown progressively farther and farther out of sync until only dysfunction and hostility remained until a series of intriguing coincidences brought them together again.

Off and on, one or the other would try to revive the corpse of their marriage to no real avail. It was as if this was the one thing in his life that was so hopelessly fucked up for so much of his life that when he finally realized how easy it is to be happy and essentially fearless, a discernible calm passed over him that had been conspicuous in its absence.

He said that Zen had taught him the difference between being emotionally dependent upon the kind of love that needed to be reciprocated from love that needed no payoff, that gave you pleasure just to give without expectations…now for the first time they were both doing the same thing at the same time for each other.

They spoiled and indulged each other in every way they could, even when they were broke, because acknowledgement, validation, appreciation, and some good old-fashioned idolatry cost nothing. As a result, it seemed like nothing threatened them anymore, as long as they had each other in the here and now.

It seemed like they encircled each other in a protective spell of positivity that remained unbroken and imparted a state of mind that is infinitely calm and focused that generates, self-replicates, and attracts more Joy and subtle manifestations of power and peace into  Life itself. They became fearless as each became the other’s idol.

Charles was something of a Jack of All Trades, but he had developed a mastery of more than a few things that made him invaluable to The Home for Wayward Souls and in many ways, he could have been their poster child, and The Home for Wayward Souls was a perfect outlet for his energies. He generally shunned the spotlight, and preferred to play a more supportive but occult role.

His expertise ranged from Music to Martial Arts, from Saucier to Security and Countermeasures, from Medicine to Mayhem, from Electronics to the Occult, Auto Mechanics and Gunsmithing. He could troubleshoot almost anything that was broken or inoperable well enough to at least to get you home on a wing and a prayer. He loved to improvise, and if anyone knew a way to make high explosives out of a stick of butter, it was him.

Several Not-so-Random Asides about Charles, 

and a few more Perspectives about Telemarketers

This may be a good point to call attention to several ideas worth noting. Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, and Gorillas are not monkeys. The fact that they cannot vocalize their displeasure over this common misparlance does not diminish the vehemence of their umbrage in being categorically mis-associated with such lesser primates.

Although racism or even breed prejudice is a regrettably common and repugnant offense in both the animal and human species, I feel less inclined to begrudge our hairier cousins for their misdeeds than I do Man(un)kind.

Racism is a fact that cannot be ignored, for in our ignorance we have done terrible injustices to ourselves, as well as our victims, but trying to pretend to be oblivious to differences in race out of political correctness deprives us all of the benefit of insight and humor in seeing ourselves as both unique and yet the same. 

Race, Culture, and National origin are our heritage. It deny its existence  is to lose track of who we are and from whence we came, as if to deny our heritage. That would be like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Charles was a team leader for ‘The Chimp Project,’ although his supervisors told him it was called the ‘Qualifier/Closer Feeder Project,’ which in itself was a misnomer insofar as both Chimpanzees, as well as Bonobos were used in the project which included a mixed-breed Chimnobo, (as he was originally dubbed), although Frederick quickly pointed out that he preferred to be known as a ‘Bonanzee’, because he liked the association with both Bonzai  and Bonanza.

He was the only one of his kind.

His name was Frederick, and the ‘trainers’ who were trying to ascertain just how far his linguistic abilities could be developed in the absence of vocalization were reportedly getting taught a lesson or two themselves, once they discovered  Frederick’s uncanny ability to communicate telepathically.

In truth, it was more of a matter of Frederick being able to finally break through the researchers’ oblivion and bias.

None of those results, tests, or findings were brought to the attention of Management because, first of all, it was never authorized, and secondly, the researchers involved did not want to expose themselves to ridicule or disdain from the scientific community.

But it was certainly an incredible serendipity for those involved who actually experienced it, and it was Frederick who had coined the term Talking Monkeys to describe not only the Humans involved in the project, but also the Project itself.

Charles had become privy to all of this because of his conversations with Mark and Darcy, the Trainer and Handler who attended numerous events at The Home for Wayward Souls, which most members called The Sanctuary  (which was actually the amphitheater where most of the services were held, or performed, if you will). They had only coincidental contact at PharmaCorp, but became friends at their place of ‘worship.’

Mark once said: 

“We worship Life…God can take care of himself…but Life needs Nurturance.” Ash later heard of the remark, and was so impressed that he worked it into an entire sermon.

As mentioned before, Charles had become a TeleMarketer out of regrettable circumstances rather than a plethora of more desirable choices. Charles’ skills and experiences were wide and far-reaching, but when he found himself both grounded and shipwrecked by his previous career occupations, he eventually washed up on the shore of The Island of Lost Souls…Telemarketing. 

Frederick was Charles’ link to the outside world of potential customers, or leads who were qualified by Frederick to eliminate the members who were either not interested in signing up for PharmaCorp’s services, and would be channeled off to another department, like Customer Services, or who could be delayed with prerecorded messages until Charles or another secondary feed could be assigned to a ‘Hot Lead’ with marketing potential.

Charles had two cousins that were hearing impaired, and had taken the time to learn American Sign Language well enough to communicate with emergency patients he encountered as a municipal Paramedic. I

t was a delightful coincidence of circumstances that Charles got to meet (and communicate) with Frederick through Mark and Darcy, because not only did they work out of two physically separate facilities, but Charles, as well as the other participants in the ‘Feeder Project’ were never even informed that their qualifiers were not human.

Mark and Darcy had sworn Charles to secrecy about the facts of the project because it had been made very clear to them that any leaks about anything associated with The Chimp Project would have dire consequences for all those involved.

The so-called ‘Talking Monkeys’ project was in fact a small part of a very convoluted series of experiments with far-reaching future implications, depending on the results of these initial findings. As omnipresent as PharmaCorp was in both the business community and everyday lives of millions of people, they were small potatoes to the real movers and shakers who were quietly monitoring those results from a very safe and remote distance…at least for now.

Telemarketing has become yet another lint-trap or catch basin for both Angels who fell far from grace from very high distances to knuckle-draggers who barely stand upright. Sometimes it only takes one misstep to go from a six-figure salary to homelessness, and Charles had done it more times than he could count.

He was just grateful that it hadn’t had to come to this until fairly late in his life. For now, telemarketing would almost pay his basic bills with few frills, indulgences or perks.

And also for right now, The Home for Wayward Souls had shown him a way to achieve a type of fulfillment that no career could offer. He sought involvement with other people of like mind. Now it was beginning to look like there were some very interesting overlaps or apparent coincidences and circumstances that seemed to be drawing themselves together of their own volition.

From soccer moms to strippers and aged semi-respectable crack whores, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, automobile salesmen, yacht brokers to marine mechanics, electronics technicians, construction workers, genius waitresses with masters’ degrees in unmarketable subjects, and heterosexual waiters, overeducated shitheads who don’t appear to be capable of tying their own shoes, chefs and short-order cooks,  bartenders, middle-aged widows and divorcées, bright young kids who were trying to work through college and college professors who broke the wrong rules, senior citizens who couldn’t or didn’t want to have to live off just Medicare and Social Security, nouveau riche Aristocrats who hit the skids, anybody with enough skeletons in their closets to fill a neighborhood graveyard, but not enough to involve time in a federal penitentiary, (unless they are involved in the Witness Protection Program), African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, East, West and American Indians, and Carribeans of every stripe and stature, Caucasians with no imagination, focus, direction or purpose who just fell down the rabbit-hole,  all trying to get ahead, or get by until something better comes along.

If there is a call center in your neighborhood, this is where they will land eventually, if they fall far enough.

When the economy tanked, the pickings were never so good.

Then there are the infirm, the disabled, and the marginal who come to the call centers. Morbidly obese diabetics, ‘chronic lungers,’ and the psychologically infirm, wheelchair-bound paraplegics and amputees, they roll, limp on crutches or half-crawl into work, dragging their oxygen and insulated containers for their insulin with them, or people just nuttier than squirrel shit that couldn’t possibly hold a job anywhere.

Where else?

A yard-and-a-half of ass hanging over both sides of the seats of their electric carts with nasal cannulas drooping over their upper lips like ‘Frito-Bandito’ mustaches, they all have a workplace to call home, special parking and handicapped-friendly access to every corner of the building.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; send these, the tempest-tossed to Me.”

(…we’ll leave the light on.)

TeleMarketers…But Wait! There’s More!

“…Call before Midnight tonight and receive a free oven mitten.”

Just in case it hasn’t been made exceedingly clear, the physically infirm are not the ones who present the most disturbing vision of a call center. Their lot in life has already been cast, and it was not a matter of choice.

But what grabs you by the eyeballs are the ones who choose to acquire enough facial tattoos, or enough piercings and jewelry to set off an airport metal detector and earn them a free escort by an air marshal.

Goths, Bikers, and Submissives embrace the branding irons of their respective cults. Their commitment to their domain requires isolation from the straight, vanilla-sex rank and file. They neither crave nor know how to accept acceptance or approval from those outside their ranks due to the rigid conformity required by their clan.

It is nothing short of amazing to see how far clothing and fashion standards can be taken, yet still conform to something that technically does not stray too far outside the guidelines of ‘Business Casual’ and because PharmaCorp recently relaxed the standard to “Informal” all bets were officially off, with the unaccountable change in policy to disallow ‘Scrubs’ which had been the uniform of the day for Charles for more than ten years whether he was home or at work.

One of the air ambulance companies for whom he had worked issued him five complete sets. The scrub pants had proven to be the most remarkable feature of the sets, as they had regular, sewn-in pockets, two rear pockets with buttons, and truly amazing cargo pockets that had pockets within the pockets, a separate watch pocket…and…a zipper fly front. 

Because he did wear them literally every day, they had also acquired the gradual accumulation of stains and battle scars of fishing, shooting, and automobile and marine mechanics to the point where even he was a little reluctant to wear them to work, and he was not likely to pay the money a new, similar set would cost, even if the supplier could be located.

It was just easier to do a lateral transfer to cargo shorts as old was replaced by new. He was slowly learning the advantages of ‘flying below the radar’.

Given the fact that most employees not only lost their religion, but also most of their other illusions by the time they land in a call center, it is really something of an exercise in futility to try to pitch ‘Dress for Success’ to people who are more accustomed to ‘Drop your pants and spread ‘em,’

From a strictly pragmatic point of view, anything more than a bathrobe and flip-flops is just window dressing for people who are meant to be heard and not seen. And yet, the more repressive an employer becomes, the more imaginative the employees likewise become to look for new ways to circumvent the old rules.

From a Humanistic point of view, this is a good thing since it reflects playful rebelliousness, one of the last traits of higher beings to drop off before becoming Zombies. From the point of view of Management, Imagination, Humor, Inventiveness and Improvisation are similarly regarded as Liabilities, because the day they can program a computer to do your job, you can be sure that they will.

For him, it was his humor that usually caused him to fall from grace. From time to time, as memos were circulated, he had been known to reprint parodies and satires of the original memos that periodically went viral, and if one of his friends sent it without removing the ‘from’ line when forwarding it…(they were generally regarded as quite hilarious by everyone…except Management)…eventually the other shoe would drop in the form of some sort of retaliation that was not directly attributable to his literary indiscretion.

One of the more curious features of all animate sexual behaviors is that, when confronted by hardship, adversity or even immanent death or capture, a fascinating compulsive sex drive seems to override any type of rational thought process, or compunction regarding obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Not all humans behave in this way. Enough stress can trigger a complete shutdown of one’s ability to respond to pleasure. The technical term for this condition is Ahedonism…but for those who can still cum, a corporation like PharmaCorp can be a breeding ground for a Never-Ending-Fuck-Fest for those of like mind.

Widows, widowers, divorcees and cougars cast their nets on a daily basis, seeking replacement, revenge, or simple sport-fucking from among the herd. Swingers, Switch-Hitters, Sodomites, Slaves and Submissives, Sirens and the daughters of Sappho, similarly seek satiation according to their own particular sexual niche. Virtually all bear some clue or identifier as to their particular preference concerning whatever blows their skirts up.

Work-spouses, puppy-lovers, hero-worshipers, ardent admirers, and unrequited lust or love objects round out most of the rest of the available stock. If it weren’t for the fact that they are literally held accountable for every second that they are on or off the clock, it would be a miracle that any work ever got done at all.

TeleMarketers…Incentives, Bonuses, Perks and other Bananas

All to be dangled just out of reach… (after all, the whole purpose of the carrot is that the donkey never gets it, right?) He/She just keeps plodding away, pulling his/her load as if just one more step will yield the desired results until the Dream, the Ideal, takes on an almost Mythic persona of its own that precludes rational discourse or examination.

The standard paradigm for sales managers is that more than eighty percent of all the commissions go to less than ten percent of the sales force. There is a method to this madness insofar as the top ten percent are elevated to Superstar status over the rank and file. Why? Because if it was a truly level playing field, the Leveling Effect would dilute the desire of the schnooks who have to sift through mountains of shit to even make commission at all.

If you consider yourself fortunate to make, say forty-five thousand gross, before taxes, you will envy those who bank eighty in commissions alone. If everyone could average sixty, and the Wunderkind only made the ten to twenty percent more that the average bell curve would predict, then most of the employees would be happy to just do their jobs, not sweat the small shit, and make fifty.

If you are among the uninitiated to Telemarketing, you are probably asking yourself “But how is it that Management can control who gets what calls?” (and thank you for asking, by the way)….

In the early days (c. Glengarry Glen Ross), you simply either got access to ‘The Good List’ or you didn’t. This was years before the advent of computer-controlled dialers pre-loaded with lists of leads. It was clearly defined as to whose dick you needed to lick in order to be given the leads for the good prospects. It doesn’t take a great deal of business acumen to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Once computers could be linked to automatic dialers, it was easier to disguise the favoritism. Eventually, the word got out that someone would monitor the recordings, or the live conversations at their discretion, and would assess their Skill Setting, and use various forms of favoritism like ‘place in line’ versus ‘next available call’ for inbound calls.

Outbound calls that are actually answered by a live person rather than an answering machine can be assigned by skill set to filter out everything except members who are new to the offering, have never been called before, never cancelled their services before, and take more than five prescription medications, for instance.

This is a non-stop ride on the Unlimited.

The salespersons who are on this skill set routinely make twelve to fourteen conversions in an eight hour shift and end up with sixty prescriptions. Because they are only sent outbound answers, they are not subject to inbound calls that are improperly routed, who want to make payments or need to speak with customer services that just waste your time.

The percentages of useful opportunities from inbound calls are very low, and also require about four times more documentation to disposition correctly, which just wastes more time, but when you compare number of calls answered, the outbound only dialer indicates more calls answered, so the supervisors tell the personnel who are getting the run of schedule that they need to decrease their turn-around time, as if it indicates that some character flaw or inefficiency is responsible for your shitty sales figures.

By contrast, those less favored individuals make eighteen to twenty conversions in the same eight hours, and end up with between eighteen and forty prescriptions on their very best days, but somebody has to shovel and sift the shit, and unless you are really desperate and made to fear for your job on a daily basis, no one would.

Eventually qualification for eligibility to even receive the commission you already earned is tied to quarterly sales goals for the entire division, not even regions or individual operations. Additional barriers include work percentage, schedule adherence, quality monitoring percentages, no written corrective actions, and no more than eight hours unscheduled leave during the commission period (thirty days).

So even if you make whatever numbers they require, they can still snatch your money away from you, even for simply using the paid time off they tell you that you are entitled for sick leave or whatever other excuse they offer and you will be angry, but you will know there is nothing you can do about it because they do it all with impunity.

And the longer they do it, the more normal it seems until acceptance eventually numbs your ability to care.

Then manipulations of the stock prices through acquisitions, mergers and other ventures geared mostly to confusing the right-minded employees with melodramatic pronouncements by the CEO of impending days of uncertainty and belt-tightening causing the employees to sell off whatever they have invested at a loss only to be bought up again at a bargain right before the company reports record-breaking profits for the next two quarters, driving stock prices (by virtue of perceived value) higher than ever and further separating the Haves from the Have-nots.

Chances are, most of the people you knew on the job lost money, and most of the people who knew the members of the board of directors at their country clubs made money.

Regardless of what you are selling, you sell one of two things, namely Goods (something of substance, that is finite and measurable, presumably of assessable value), or Services, something that cannot be seen or measured, and is more dependent upon Perception of Value, and is by definition, Insubstantial…having no substance.

In truth, both are controlled by a principle called Market Value, which is almost completely controlled by Consumer Perception of Value. If you are selling services, it’s all smoke and mirrors….

Pharmaceutical manufacturers actually produce the product, but distribution and point-of-service sales were completely controlled by Drug Stores, especially franchised chains or networks of stores, until the advent of mail-order prescription home delivery delivered a swift kick to the nuts to local drug stores.

First, ninety day supplies were available only by mail order. This was arranged by collusion between the healthcare providers, insurance underwriters, and the prescription benefit administrators who provided management services, namely companies like PharmaCorp. They promised to contain skyrocketing costs to the providers and the underwriters.

Initially, the efficiency of a limited number of warehousing facilities labeled ‘pharmacies’ that distribute over wide areas, the reduction of duplication of services, inventories, and personnel and overhead combined with greater buying power allowed for wider profit margins coupled with a burgeoning market yielded unbridled success, but as is often the case, that was not enough once greed took over.

First to suffer was the quality of the medications themselves, followed by deceptive and misleading manipulations of the minimum legal requirements for truth as determined by entire firms of attorneys already on huge retainers bent on reinforcing the perceived value of their services coupled with a lack of competition breeding a general contempt for the quality of the services or customer retention resulting in legally strong-arming the general public into submission by a lack of choice of alternatives as written into the prescription drug benefits themselves.

The reason they always get away with it is because the very rich, powerful, and financially and socially privileged barons would rather support the rest of the financial aristocracy by screwing the general public as hard and long and repeatedly as they can get away with it, and since they can afford to be as infinitely patient as necessary, and because it is incremental and inevitable, it will continue.

Whether they have to victimize a thousand members to support the salary of one attorney, or a hundred thousand members to support the salary of one corporate executive, no one cares as long as there are an almost unlimited number of victims, because if you aren’t a member of their country club, you are just shit on the bottoms of their golf shoes.

A FEW OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HEALTHCARE INSURANCE 

(The author’s rant)

Insurance is one of the most insidious fear-based institutions enslaving America today. The power with which insurance companies hold all of us is evidenced by the fact that insurance companies own many of the industries of America.

For more than fifty years it has become increasingly apparent that an axis of evil represented by attorneys, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers has held us in a crossfire from which there appears to be no escape.

Seeing opportunity amongst the glut of avarice and profiteering, healthcare insurance administrative companies have now established and ingratiated themselves so insidiously that it would appear that few people have even noticed their presence.

A Remora is a small fish that attaches itself to the belly of a shark. It is considered to be a symbiotic relationship because the shark benefits from the cleaning that the Remora provides and the Remora benefits from the free food, transportation, and the protection.

Healthcare insurance administrative companies began much like the Remora, as they were initially relatively small and benign. They did not provide the insurance; they simply managed the plan for the companies. It was symbiosis, and both parties benefitted, at no great threat to the public.

This is where the analogy falls apart, however. In recent years healthcare insurance administrative companies now steer the shark, tell it when and whom to eat, and if sufficiently provoked will represent a serious and grave threat in and of themselves. Their appetites are also now as rapacious as that of the shark itself.

At least one of them was allegedly spawned from the belly of a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and although the courts eventually ruled that they had to divest themselves of each other due to the potential monopoly they represented, what grew out of that entity may prove far more dangerous.

Congress approved it, and no one seems to have even noticed.

Family coverage for most healthcare insurance plans costs between $300-$400 dollars per month, depending upon your insurance benefits, if you have a job that provides group coverage.

Most plans have deductibles ranging from between $1600 to $3000 per family. That amounts to almost eight thousand dollars a year just to actually receive any benefits from your healthcare insurance.

After the deductible is met, most plans pay 80 percent of allowed claims for network providers and allowed medications, excluding chiropractic and acupuncture services; (if allowed at all; almost none of them pay more than 50 percent.) Non-network providers similarly are almost never paid at a rate greater than 50 percent.

These so-called cost-sharing measures do not so much represent the necessity of providing the monies the insurance company needs to defray costs as it represents deterrents designed to discourage members from using their insurance, seeing their doctors, going to the hospital, or even taking medications at all.

Some plans provide for pre-tax flexible spending accounts, healthcare spending benefits plans or other provisions to help hedge against the deductibles and other costs. If all goes well, good for you.

If not, you may find your account frozen with thousands of dollars unavailable until you send them a check or money order for as little as ten cents’ expenses that they have decided to contest for reasons that defy description. If it is not handled in a timely manner, you may even loose the remaining frozen assets allocated for that year.

Network vs. non-network as well as preferred vs. non-preferred are terms fraught with suspicious definitions that smack of collusion and impropriety to those of us who might be inclined in our ignorance to question the criteria for such labels, regarding them in the same manner as one might view competition for turf by rival gangs.

Physicians who charge more than the ‘usual and customary fees’ have to be paid by the insured out of pocket. Those usual and customary fees are so notoriously low that almost no physician falls within the criteria, leaving one to wonder how those fees can be considered usual and customary.

Walk-in clinics (aka ‘Doc-in-a-Box’ usually charge the uninsured about the same amount of money as what the insured pay in co-payments. I do not personally recommend their services, based on my own experiences; it is just mentioned as a point of reference.

Allowed vs. non-covered medications, as well as terms such as preferred vs. non-preferred medications either eliminate certain types of therapy completely, or make them prohibitively expensive.

Prior Authorization is often required for many medications to be covered, based on a process called coverage review which requires the physician to take the time to make a phone call (thirty-minute wait times are not uncommon, btw) to plead your case in order to have the claim allowed, only to find out that once it is considered ‘authorized’ you may still be required to pay one hundred percent of the total cost of the medication as if you had no insurance at all.

Just to add to the confusion, prior authorization is a term that can be used to describe completely different processes and procedures required by the insurance administrators.

Imagine if a doctor used the same term to describe a hemorrhoidectomy, brain surgery, and breast augmentation.

This newspeak of medical healthcare insurance has created a state of confusion similar to that which was evidenced by the multiple meanings of ‘Aladeen.’ in Sacha Baron Cohens’ comedic film, ‘The Dictator.’

It is no accident. confusion creates delays in pay-outs, and time is money when the insurance administrators earn interest by virtue of the delays.

All insurance companies rely on a paradigm of ‘attrition of claims based on successive denials.’ In other words, if a calculated percentage of the claimants will give up after each stage that their claim is denied, escalated, reviewed, re-submitted, processed, denied again, adjudicated, litigated, etc. eventually only the most die-hard petitioners will ever realize any satisfaction at all, and for even for those that do, your delay is their money, (factored by bank rates of interest.)

This not only reduces the amount of money that the insurance companies pay, but the interest generated on the money unpaid on delayed claims makes even more money. These denials are regarded as ‘damage control’ and have consistently made incremental erosions into what is considered a legal basis for denials of coverage.

Another feature of pharmaceutical healthcare insurance is to bamboozle the insured with a barrage of initializations that stand for premises that in and of themselves are arbitrary attempts to make the insured believe that they have no choice.

In some cases, that is an actual point in fact.

Some plans use a term to disguise your inability to refill your prescription more than a pre-specified number of times at your local retail pharmacy. There is an initialization for it.

Some plans require you to call the program administrator (not the provider) to register your choice to stay with your local pharmacy. If you don’t, you pay full retail price. Others require that if you don’t make a choice by a certain date, you lose your opportunity to make any choice at all.

Whatever happened to being able to make your own choices without having to beg for permission?

January 1st of 2014 ushered in the proclamation of a list of forty-eight of the most commonly prescribed medications that were suddenly denied and no longer covered under Medicare, for instance.

Almost all of these medications had previously been approved for coverage for several years and were part of well-established treatment modalities and accepted courses of action by the medical community.

No good reason has been forthcoming as to the rationale for this capricious edict, as issued by healthcare insurance administrators.

Since 2012 almost all competition between healthcare insurance administrators has been eliminated.

All pharmaceutical manufacturers keep entire law firms on retainer to challenge the seventeen-year limit imposed on exclusive rights to their patents as brand-name medications, claiming excessive costs for research and development, including the costs of their failures to produce drugs that the FDA will eventually approve after several years of clinical trials, including marketing the medication in third-world countries and ‘voluntary’ trials in prisons and on people who are willing to be paid to be used as test subjects.

Additional extensions of the seventeen-years of exclusive rights may be allowed for another four or more years.

No other type of patent is routinely granted these kinds of exclusivity.

Keep in mind that few industries other than Tobacco, Oil and Insurance realize the kind of windfall profits that are routinely made by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Once generic licenses are issued to manufacture a medication, it is not unusual for the original brand-name manufacturer to withhold what is considered ‘proprietary information’ (i.e. secrets) about how to manufacture that medication so as to make it a true generic equivalent of the original.

Once the FDA approves the generic medication, the insurance companies (by way of insurance administrators) will make it increasingly difficult (expensive) to purchase the original brand name medication, regardless of how many patients report decreased effectiveness, allergic reactions and undesirable side effects.

Although in theory, the FDA requires adherence to certain quality standards for those generic medications if they were manufactured in the US, this country is being flooded with a plethora of ‘Dr. Bombay’s Bathtub Batch’ manufacturers from overseas third-world countries where safety, sanitation, and other concerns are much lower than in the United States.

These medications are also allegedly subject to the same standards by the Food and Drug Administration, but the actual products themselves seem to indicate otherwise.

How some of these medications ever pass the allegedly rigorous standards we have been taught to believe we are guaranteed in this country defies imagination.

Many of these medications are so poorly produced and pressed that they disintegrate before they are received by the patients, especially if they are then mail-order shipped to their victim/recipients.

Some of those medications taste and/or smell so bad as to be almost impossible to ingest, despite the fact that the original brand-name medication did not possess those same undesirable characteristics.

I was recently shipped a generic medication that I had taken for more than two years that previously had no discernible odor at all and had a slight coating to it that made it easy to swallow. The new generic version of this medication had a rough finish, was poorly pressed and possessed an odor of what smelled like plasticizers that reminded me of cat urine on a small children’s toy. I now no longer take the medication.

They won.

Nausea, vomiting, dysphagia, dyspepsia, diarrhea, horrific flatulence, possibly accompanied by ‘unexpected oily discharges,’ rashes and even anaphylactic reactions are among the laundry list of complaints registered by users of these generic medications allegedly declared safe, assuming that the medication works at all, or doesn’t need to be increased by two hundred percent to achieve desired or even consistent results.

Metfromin, the ‘generic equivalent’ of Glucophage is a prime example of the above laundry list of complaints for adverse reactions, but it practically takes ‘an act of Congress’ to get it approved for brand-name use, and the cost is ridiculous and usually prohibitive.

(It’s no co-incidence that and act of Congress can ether mean sexual union, or legislative action, because either way, YOU ARE GOING TO GET FUCKED! ) 

Even the quality and durability of the containers themselves and their labeling, (including poor print quality or legibility) has deteriorated rapidly over the last few years to the point that the pill containers themselves do not always survive mail-order shipment.

The new containers are so thin and flimsy that I could easily crush them between my thumb and forefinger. The old containers could have resisted hammer-blows, had I been so inclined, and apparently some post-office workers are….

Increasingly, insurance companies are often relying on ‘administrators’ acting as management services to accomplish their avaricious schemes. Insurance companies are required to have their policies approved by each state’s Bureau of Management Services under the board of Financial Management of that state. In theory, this insures that the policy that the insurance company alleges to provide their policyholders matches certain state standards.

Ironically, at least one state’s office of financial management uses insurance that utilizes a healthcare insurance administrator to regulate (diminish) the claims of their employees.

If you regard the administrators of the insurance in the same light that one might view some of the private sub-contractors of the defense department or other government contractors who essentially do the dirty work that even the CIA won’t touch by providing deniability of responsibility for actions tacitly condoned, but publicly disavowed, you may get a feeling for exactly how it is that America is becoming enslaved by them.

Imagine that the administrator of your insurance also provides home delivery of your medications, if you so desire, for several years, but then with increasing regularity starts to require you to get home delivery after the second or third refill, or pay the full price of the medication.

For the first few years, it is for brand-name only, but eventually all ‘maintenance medications,’ (brand name or generic) can only be filled by mail-order more than twice. Once again, it is the incremental erosions of your benefits that continue until you begin to question what benefits you have at all.

Now you no longer have control over who fills your prescriptions. Now you no longer have a choice as to which manufacturer you use, if it is generic, without an approval.

Next, they sell you on automatic delivery, since they do not consider themselves responsible if you forget to order them until it is too late and you run out, so you agree to have them decide when to ship them.

The law states that once seventy-five percent of what your scheduled dosage is estimated to have been used, they can now send you another order. This also helps make sure that you don’t get your doctor to prescribe your medications so that you can break them in half, and make the supply last twice as long.

This should ensure that you get them anywhere from two and a half weeks to ten days early…in theory…although it is not uncommon for patients to receive their prescriptions so early that they have six weeks supply or more on hand when their new prescriptions arrive (un-budgeted and unexpected), while other patients report their medications are so late that they have to go to their local pharmacy to pay out of pocket to avoid doing without medications upon which their life may depend.

Whether this is the result of some kind of collusion or just plain incompetence is essentially a moot point. It does, however smack of arrogance as regards quality of services rendered.

Once you are on their auto-refill list, even though you may call them to inform them that your doctor has taken you off that prescription before the medication has even been shipped, they may nonetheless claim that it is still too late to cancel the order because it is already “in process”… (whatever the fuck that means), which now means you are stuck paying for a ninety-day’s supply of something you are no longer taking, even though you told them so before they shipped it. No refunds…tough shit for you, even if you don’t open the container or accept delivery.

If you don’t use auto-refill and you don’t order the medications when they call you to tell you it is time to order more, they will cancel your prescription, forcing you to go back to the doctor to get it re-written.

If somebody steals the prescription from your mailbox, and you notify the postmaster and the police in a timely enough manner that even they can’t weasel their way out of acknowledging that a crime was committed (they will initially, by the way try to intimidate you by implying that the criminal is you until proven otherwise) they will still charge you for that medication and keep the money for (in theory) sixty days “to ensure that it has actually been lost or stolen before you got it” (as if it is reasonable to expect your prescriptions to take two months to reach you by mail-order).

(No matter how convenient it may seem, never, EVER agree to let them auto-charge your credit or debit card, or bank account by automatic draft.)

Then, (again, in theory) they will credit your account against future charges (maybe) if you hound them relentlessly until they do, all the while claiming that it is “in process” in the Accounts Receivable Department (somewhere), and you get no interest on the money they have extorted from you in the meantime.

If you can’t afford to pay for it twice and your account is too far overdue waiting for the credit, they will suspend your prescription delivery and even cancel your prescription.

After that, they will require your signature to deliver the medications so as to further inconvenience you for having asserted yourself. If you are not home at the time that delivery is attempted, you have to go to the post office to pick it up.

In years gone by, the members who suffered these practices would simply cancel home delivery and not pay the unfair charges or suffer such poor service or unreasonable demands.

They once had a choice, but after the healthcare providers began to realize that they could significantly cut the cost of their benefits to their employees, all the while denying responsibility for the actions of those who acted on their behalf, the popularity of requiring the members to accept this kind of shabby treatment has increasingly become the norm.

In this way, it is the healthcare insurance administrators who are responsible for effectively preventing you from receiving the benefits for which you pay so dearly.

One might be inclined to think that no right-thinking public official or healthcare provider would allow, let alone encourage this sort of action, or utilize the services of such deplorable characters, but like the character ‘Deepthroat’ said in ‘All the President’s Men’: “…follow the money”.

One such company paid millions in fines for illegal use of influence several years ago, and lost over two hundred million dollars in state-subsidized medical insurance contracts and still had the colossal gall to issue a statement that neither the fines or the loss of the state contract would significantly affect their profits for the year.

(Their annual net worth was estimated at over 360 Billion dollars.)

Protection from monopolization of industries such as the media, and the management of insurance or the vending of pharmaceuticals has become a thing of the past, a mere anecdotal reference on the timeline of the rape and pillage of the rights and civil liberties of all Americans by the rich and privileged who live above the law and have the same respect and regard for the quality of your lives as the strip mining companies had for the state of West Virginia.

We have Congress to blame for allowing this. Although it might be argued that because we voted them into office, it is somehow our fault, if you consider the fact that all the above-mentioned entities contribute heavily to both political parties, it makes no difference. The only difference between bullshit and horse shit is the smell.

America has the best government that money can buy.

Then again, maybe that’s just me speaking…just another random, unfocused rant by some alienated, disgruntled ne’er-do well.

If you think that this piece lacks specific examples, you would be right; there are plenty of examples which I have purposely withheld because I don’t have the money to defend myself against the lawsuits to which I would reasonably expect to be subject, regardless of their validity.

Civil law, like civil war is an oxymoron devoid of any connection to justice, truth, or civility. It’s all a matter of Trial by Money.

I can only hope to point you toward the truth…after that, it’s up to you to recognize these examples. They are full of terms like “Choice”, “Allowance”, “Select”, and other words whose meanings are frequently the opposite of what any normal person would infer. All of it is ripe with the ‘Newspeak’ of George Orwell’s ‘1984.’

If you have never experienced any of these injustices and outrages, I am happy for you, and hope you never are forced to ever wake up to the reality of what is being done to so many others all around you. You are probably in reasonably good health and are currently well enough to not even need healthcare insurance, if you weren’t forced to live in fear. I wish you continued good fortune.

…Hey, who wants some pie?

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….

Charles and Suki

(an introduction)

There was an atmosphere that surrounded Charles that seemed to protect and insulate him from the toxic environment of his workplace. His demeanor had noticeably changed in the last nine months. It was as if nothing could hurt him, or diminish his ‘Animated Serenity,’ as he called it.

There was always a core group around him, no matter where they moved him that responded well to his Crazy Zen Wisdom, uncensored offbeat humor, and generally irreverent persona.

And they protected each other from the Madness….

Any time there was more than thirty seconds between calls, someone would tell a joke, or a story that was usually calculated for its shock value. All the stories were interrupted, and told in installments in the spaces between the calls. It could take over an hour to relate the presentation to whatever part of the group was paying attention at that moment.

It was fractured, disjointed, and yet cohesive for those who learned to keep up with the flow…there could be four or more stories being told concurrently over an entire afternoon or evening, each one picking up where they had left off before the interruption.

Sometimes they got caught in mid-laugh. The harder you try to suppress it, the more difficult it is to get through the presentation. Laughing during the pitch was absolutely not tolerated, and if captured and monitored, could lower your quality score enough to cost you your entire month’s commission. Same goes for eating during a presentation.

It was like musical chairs. Everybody did it until the music stopped.

Woven throughout those stories would also be intermittent interjections about family, money, sex, politics, current events, relationships, ‘Asshole Remarks’ from members who were usually mimicked and mocked (with the mute button pressed) while the call continued, as they revealed a great deal about themselves and their lives in the process. This process of sharing was part Chautauqua, part group therapy, and part rant.

Everyone was as much touched and moved by Charles’ devotion to his wife and family as by the sadness he carried over his disappointment regarding his relationship with his wife, Suki…he never complained, but it was just as obvious by what he didn’t say that told the story just the same…until that all changed for the better…it changed suddenly, almost overnight, it seemed, amidst scandalous rumors he never tried to deny…for good reason…the result had a galvanizing effect on everything about him from his posture, his expression, and the way everybody regarded him, as well as his sales figures….

Nobody in the business of Sales will deny the importance of Attitude in successful business negotiations…you don’t really sell anything…you sell yourself…that is what people buy…the features, advantages, even the price is just an opportunity to seduce the target because while you are pitching the client; the appearance of any great degree of reasoning is all smoke and mirrors that you use to hypnotize and persuade.

Pitching a target is a chance to flex your muscles, to see how far you can take that target to make them think it was their idea in the first place, or that they really wanted it all along. 

Everybody wants to get their own way; you just show them how to get it.

Charles projected a serenity that seemed to come from some secret place…some secret he possessed, a certain detachment that came from being able to see through the illusions that surround almost everything that most people do, or believe.

Instead of sleight of hand, he used sleight of mind…like the way you jingle your keys to distract a crying baby, or the way a pickpocket jostles a mark to distract them…or the way an Aikido master re-directs the force of an opponent’s attack.

He did not avoid any questions, in fact, he welcomed all questions and objections, he just didn’t give any answers he didn’t want to divulge, but gave the impression that he was responding to their objections, all the while capitalizing on their perceptions of reality, which dictated their perception of their needs.

Some people do not want to be sold on convenience, for instance, because they regard that as laziness, but you can sell them on how it frees up more time to pursue whatever it is they call happiness, especially if you can play upon their deep-seated guilt over not giving enough time or attention to their families.

If price doesn’t work for them, then sell value, or quality. ‘…An American Company…’ may still be owned by some Japanese or Chinese conglomerate, but if the client is a victim of either jingoism or xenophobia, then you need to be as American as plastic surgery or sweaters for dogs.

Some people are susceptible to how a particular product may improve their image, as if mere possession of said item makes a statement about who they are (as long as they don’t realize what you are really pitching). Vanity may work for some, whereas Pride or Self-esteem may be the trigger point that releases the wallet for others.

The next, newest, best thing will sell for some, where others may regard it as gimmickry. Tradition and stability usually appeal to them. Phrases such as ‘So you never have to worry again.’ or“‘Set it and forget it,’ or ‘Peace of Mind’’for your family’s sake’ can open a target like a fresh oyster.

‘To avoid the embarrassment of…to prevent future problems…we all hate…nobody wants…we all need…’ and other similar phrases play upon fear, insecurity, envy, loneliness, or other nebulous but deep-seated emotional connections we have with primal experiences that shaped our perception of the world.

The Art of it all is to distract and disguise these blatant manipulations, or their lack of connection with the original question. As long as you can establish, address, and channel the need, they will forget the question.

But the real charm, that intangible grace and power he had come to re-acquire so recently was also the result of one part Wicca, one part Tantric, and several generous portions of séance.

Suki had been a practicing witch for more than ten years, and Charles had been a practitioner of Tantric for almost twenty, but the doldrums and alienation within their relationship had signaled a decline in their enthusiasm for most of their interests and outlets. 

When the passion suddenly returned to their marriage, so did the Majic….

About the time that Suki began her incantations and spells, Charles shot a hole through a mirror to attempt to create a ‘portal’ to allow spirits to ‘cross over’ from ‘the other side.’

After about a half-dozen failed attempts, something remarkable happened. Instead of shattering completely, a series of concentric cracks and radial fissures allowed the rest of the mirror to remain intact as the fractures were entirely self-contained.

The result was a hole that when viewed one way, looked like an eye and when viewed from another angle looked like a vagina…the Mother of all Portals. It was disarmingly beautiful and fascinatingly frightening to stare into this sparkling but unblinking vortex that seemed to draw you into it…that was about the time that things got really interesting.

They placed a mirror on the opposite wall, and a mirror in each of the four corners.

Regardless of whether it was ritual or recreation, they began to notice apparitions and spirits around them whenever they had sex. A first, a lone entity, followed by several more souls. Luminosities, rays and beams of light or glowing orbs floated, flitted, and flew around the room, dancing, darting, bouncing and reflecting off everything, giving an eerie blush to everything they touched.

On one occasion, while in mid-trance they visualized being in a pit, surrounded on all sides by onlookers. On another, their room was like a Lucite cage suspended in blackness, their bed a stage, with thousands of eyes following their every move.

Sometimes, phantom touches and caresses augmented their unions.

In their dreams, the spirits spoke to them, and gave faces to their presences, as well as a new perspective to their lives.

Eventually, they began teaching classes at the Sanctuary.

The Script

“Good Morning, Welcome to PharmaCorp…”

“Good Morning…”

“Good Afternoon…”

“Good Evening…”

“My name is Charles…”

“My name is Jeff…”

“My name is Gina…”

“My name is Brittany…”

“My name is Mike…”

“My name is Ron…”

“ My name is Vicki…”

“My name is Tina…”

“My name is Tyrone…”

“My name is Don…”

“My name is [your name here]…”

“…and I’m a Prescription Benefits Specialist for PharmaCorp…”

“…and this call may be monitored and recorded…”

“…for quality assurance…”

“…for your protection…”

May I please speak with [target name here]?”

“We’re the program administrators for your prescription drug plan benefits for [Provider Name Here]…”

“…and I am a resource for helping you make the best use of your existing prescription benefit options.”

“I have two benefits that I would like to discuss with you today.”

“…and in order to protect your privacy, we always have to be sure we’re speaking with the right person.”

“I see you’re born in the month of [state month here]…”

“…Would you please verify the day and the year?

“Thank you.”

“One of your benefits is you do have the option of having your prescription medications delivered directly to your home from our pharmacy…”

“…and I see one of your most recent refills was for [state name of drug]…”

“…it was last filled on [date of fill]…”

“…for a [# of days] supply of [# of pills]…”

“…are you still taking that medication?”

“I see it was prescribed by Dr. [name of physician] in [name of city].”

“Now when you purchased that medication at [name of pharmacy]…”

“…you paid [state retail cost of medication]…”

“…and PharmaCorp can send you up to a ninety-day supply of [state quantity]…”

“…for only [state cost]…”

“…and send it to your home about ten days before your next scheduled refill date…”

“…so you have it in plenty of time before your next refill…”

“…we also have automatic refill of your medications available at no extra cost…”

“…or you can order any medication as needed if you prefer…”

“…and in either case, there is no additional cost for standard shipping…”

“…and no additional service fees or hidden costs of any kind…”

“To make it even easier for you to take advantage of this benefit…”

“…with your permission, we can contact your Doctor by fax to request authorization for up to a ninety-day supply, as well as three refills, so your prescription is good for up to a year…”

“We have similar savings on other medications, and I would be happy to go over those savings with you as well…”

“Does that sound like something in which you would be interested?”

Now that was pretty much the script verbatim, and if you knew what was good for you, you memorized it as quickly as possible so well that you start to repeat it in your sleep…so well that very little of anything above brainstem activity is required to repeat it flawlessly…with or without…interruption, so that you can manipulate two main programs running on different screens, that have several sub-programs each, transferring data by copy-and-paste to provide the specifics of the script as you are reciting it.

All the while, you have to be prepared for numerous interruptions, interjections, objections and diatribes from the target, because these objections will provide you with the key as to how to sell that target…they think that their objections are exposing your weaknesses, but in fact, they are telling you what you need to address in order to get them to roll over and give it up.

Now listen to the same script, as it might be heard on any given day or night, in the midst of an island of twenty cubicles in two rows of ten. Imagine listening to the sheer vastness of what initially sounds like an unintelligible tsunami of words overwhelming you, and carrying you away, as fragments of sounds begin to take shape into recognizable words and phrases:

 “Good Morning…”

“Is it five yet?”

“Good Afternoon…”

“Who wants to split a calzone?”

“Good Evening…”

“Can anybody break a ten?”

“My name is Charles…”

“Has anybody seen…[name a movie]?

“My name is Jeff…”

“What’s the Spanish word for ‘jerk-off’?”

“…I don’t know, probably ‘Jeff’…no, seriously…”

“Hello, my name is Gina…”

“Hey, I heard a joke…what’s the difference between…?”

“My name is [your name here]…”

“…a pick-pocket and a peeping Tom?”

“What happens if somebody takes you to court and gets a judgment against you?”

“Hi, my name is Vicki…”

“…a pick-pocket snatches watches…”

“…and I’m a Prescription Benefits Specialist for PharmaCorp…”

“…Can they garnish your wages?”

“What’s the difference between a women’s track team and a tribe of Pygmies?”

“…and this call may be monitored and recorded…”

“No, but they can get a judgment against you, and put a lien on your house, or anything of substantial value…”

“Hello, my name is Charles…”

“…the Pygmies are a bunch of cunning runts…”

“…for quality assurance…”

“….and take it from you?”

“Hey, I heard one…two Jews walked into a pharmacy…No, seriously…I keed…I keed….” (Done in a Mid-Eastern Dialect)

“ Hello, my name is Mike….”

“…for your protection…”

“…Hey what happened to Sandra?”

“Good Afternoon, My name is Don…”

“…for your protection…”

“Here’s a good one…Dr. Peter Cockbern…Urology!

“…You didn’t hear?”

“No, but if you try to sell it, they have to be paid before you get your money…”

“No…”

“I just got off the phone with Mei Hung Lo…”

May I please speak with [target name here]?”

“Has anyone else spoken with a Phat Ho?

“Not since yo’ Mamma left town!”

“…for Quality Assurance…”

“…Third arrest for DUI…she’s in county…”

“I need to take money out of my 401-K…”

“We’re the program administrators for your prescription drug plan benefits for [Provider Name Here]…”

“…so I guess she won’t be in the talent show next week…”

“…Is there a penalty for that?”

“A guy just told me he was Jack Kinoff…”

“…and I am a resource for helping you make the best use of your existing prescription benefit options.”

“…not likely…”

“How old are you?”

“…in order to protect your privacy…”

“You said your name is Tsay Nguyen…? (pronounced ‘Say When’)

“I have two benefits that I would like to discuss with you today.”

“Fifty-two, why?”

“May I please speak with Harry Kuntz?” (She pronounces it with a long ‘U’ to no avail…) “…that’s Kuntz?” (pronounced with a short ‘u’…remember…she can’t laugh).

“…for your convenience…”

“…Makes you think maybe God really loves Music after all…she couldn’t hit a high note to save her life…”

“…and in order to protect your privacy, we always have to be sure we’re speaking with the right person.”

“If you’re under sixty-one and a half, there’s a penalty…”

“You said you’re Dick Kurtz?”

“I see you’re born in the month of [state month here]…”

“…Hell, her voice is even lower than mine…”

“…but you can borrow against it…”

“Is there Amanda Huggenkis there?”

“Well the whiskey and the cigarettes don’t help any…”

“…at your convenience…”

“May I speak with Mike Hunt?”

“…Would you please verify the day and the year?

“…even if I need money now…how am I going to pay it back later?”

“…you do have the option…”

“Who’s watching her kids?”

“Ben Dover?…Ninja Please!

 “…my name is Tyrone…”

“Thank you.”

“What were their parents thinking?”

“…for your safety…”                                

“I think they give you a year’s forbearance or something to catch up…”

“…Children and Family Services, until her mom came down from Tennessee…”

“Hello, my name is Ron…”

“One of your benefits is you do have is the option of having your prescription medications delivered directly to your home from our pharmacy…”

“Yeah…like next year is going to be any better….”

“…Too bad…I love her kids…but I fuckin’ hate Karaoke…”

“…at no extra charge…”

“Well keep in mind…Hung Wang does not mean the same thing in Korean…”

“Is this Jenna Talia?”

“…and I see one of your most recent refills was for [state name of drug]…”

“…I’ll just be grateful if it’s not worse…”

“…Didn’t you guys date for a while last year?”

“…it was last filled on [date of fill]…”

“What’s Chlamydia?”

“Good afternoon, my name is Jeff…”

“…yeah, until her psycho ex-husband got out of prison…”

“…for a [# of days] supply of [# of pills]…”

“You mean that street in West Palm where all the clubs are?”

“Hello, my name is Tyrone…”

“…and came down here on a stolen motorcycle…”

“…and I am a resource…”

“…no, that’s Clematis…your wife gave you VD?”

“…are you still taking that medication?”

“…No…my wife said she got it at the city pool, while the kids were learning to swim…”

“…until they extradited him back, after he violated…”

“…for your safety and protection…”

“I see it was prescribed by Dr. [name of physician] in [name of city].”

“…Yeah…maybe if she fucked one of the lifeguards…”

“Hello, my name is Josh.”

“…parole…”

“Now when you purchased that medication at [name of pharmacy]…”

“…I should be so lucky…one less thankless task for me to do…”

“What does it take to get a restraining order?”

“Hello, my name is Tina…”

“…you paid [state retail cost of medication]…”

“…I don’t know…sounds like you got a pinch-hitter…”

“…restraining order?…what…on Jeff?”

“Hello, my name is Brittany…”

“…and PharmaCorp can send you up to a ninety-day supply of [state quantity]…”

 “…for your convenience…”

“…So what…she told you to take azithromycin, or doxycycline?”

“…in order to protect…”

“No…he’s harmless…no offense Jeff….”

“My name is Brittany, and I am a Prescription Benefit Specialist…”

“…for only [state cost]…”

“…doxy…and metronidazole…”

“…All that talk about Sandy’s husband got me thinking about my ex…”

“…and send it to your home about ten days before your next scheduled refill date…”

“…dude…that’s for Trichomoniasis…”

“…in order to protect your identity…”

“…don’t worry, he’ll never take out an order against you, as long as you still keep answering his booty calls…”

“Hello, my name is Gina…”

“…so you have it in plenty of time before your next refill…”

“…from raw pork?”

“Hey! That’s not fair!…It was just that one time…”

“…at no extra charge…”

“…we also have automatic refill of your medications available at no extra cost…”

“…you could say that…they’re both sexually transmitted diseases, but no, you’re thinking of trichinosis…but it sounds like there’s some wild pork involved somewhere though…”

“…at your convenience…”

“…It was Christmas, and I was feelin’ blue…”

“…or you can order any medication as needed if you prefer…”

“Are you sure?”

“…he told me his wife left him…”

“…and in either case, there is no additional cost for standard shipping…”

“Hey, don’t believe me…ask your doctor…”

“…for your safety…”

“…which was true, except he didn’t mention she was coming back in a week…she was just visiting family up North…Prick!

“…and no additional service fees or hidden costs of any kind…”

“That’s cold, bro’…”

“What do you expect from a man? As long as we let them play us against each other, they will always act like animals, and get away with it…”

“I promise you if I do decide to embrace the lesbian lifestyle, you’ll be the first to know…”

“Hello, my name is Brittany…”

“To make it even easier for you to take advantage of this benefit…”

“…I think you and your wife need to have a talk…I’m just sayin’…”

“…delivered to your home…”

“I think I might be a lesbian…”

“Sorry Jeff…you can’t be a lesbian.”

“…But we like all the same stuff…”

“Thanks, but I still prefer the hotdog over the taco…”

“…automatically…”

“…with your permission, we can contact your Doctor by fax to request authorization for up to a ninety-day supply, as well as three refills, so your prescription is good for a year…”

“…at your convenience…”

“What does ‘Cabrone’ mean?”

“We have similar savings on other medications, and I would be happy to go over those savings with you as well…”

“Depends on the country…it can mean anything from ‘Cuckold’ to ‘Motherfucker’…in what context?”

“…to protect your privacy…”

“Does that sound like something in which you would be interested?”

“Some guy yelled it into the phone before he hung up.”

Merlin has a Few Tricks up his sleeve

Merlin sits at his kitchen table, staring at twelve capsules he has just finished filling. Somehow, in Merlin’s kitchen, the four-beam Ohaus scale, as well as the other assorted laboratory glassware and utensils don’t particularly seem out of place. The gallon Ziploc had nearly one kilogram of what Merle had come to refer to as ‘The Wisdom’ or ‘The Knowledge of Good and Evil.’

His laboratory test results and a little ‘sampling’ had convinced him it was not only safe, but quite effective. Tonight, he would be testing its effectiveness in achieving the desired effect on Ash, Kali, and himself.

A little over one year ago, he had begun research into a new form of anti-depressant that was supposed to revolutionize Psychotherapy. The idea was to not only raise serum serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels without overloading the rest of the body (particularly the enteric tract), but to also trigger release of several very interesting polypeptides related to a sort of non-euphoric enthusiasm, spontaneous joy, and an almost childlike renewal of interest in routine activities of daily living.

The most remarkable aspect was that it showed indications of being able to channel critical thinking and problem-solving in a way that encouraged its users to objectively reflect upon self-sabotage, and inconsistencies of behaviors, as well as more effective methods for success in achieving desired goals.

With a minimum of counseling and guidance, the patient literally teaches them self as they learn and evolve, and new neuron pathways are established. The psychiatric community long ago abandoned the concept of actually counseling their patients as long as they could continue to write more prescriptions, see more patients, and make more money.

Counseling was for mere MSW’s and Doctors of Psychology (who cannot write prescriptions), but are supposed to be very good at listening.

This drug could conceivably relegate the psychiatrists to the position of Lifeguard, Referee, or Hall Monitor.

That drug was not what was on Merlin’s kitchen table.

Although research was still in the earliest stages concerning the development of PharmaCorp’s hottest prospect, he also discovered an analog isomer of the desired drug that possessed all the above characteristics, but also produced LSD-like visions, and universally triggered an awareness of the presence of a supernatural, or higher being as well as the connectivity of all beings and forms of existence, resulting in a euphoria that lasted long after the administration of the drug.

Similar results from electrical stimulation to the left parietal region of the brain producing a ‘God Effect’ or ‘God Phenomenon’ were transient and short-lived. This showed all the promise of unlocking Enlightenment…maybe permanently.

Once Merle recognized the potential importance of this discovery, he discretely produced two kilograms of it, and had the other kilo discretely ‘put away for safekeeping.’

As little as one hundred micrograms could produce threshold effects.

He knew better than to reveal those findings to PharmaCorp, since any sort of visions would be considered undesirable side-effects, and the spiritual awakenings would be similarly ill-received. For instance, the word Euphoria is always listed as an undesirable side effect…why?

What is wrong with feeling Good?

Even if we have every good reason to feel bad, what good comes from feeling bad?

If there is a happy ending out there somewhere, aren’t we more likely to recognize, experience and appreciate it if we are already feeling good? Why do we let our temporary external circumstances determine not only our mood, but also our image, self-concept, or perception of self-worth to the point where we lose our ability to be able to pursue happiness?

‘Too close to schizophrenia for people unable to tell the difference between Madness and Genius.’ He mused.

“Look at what happened with Dr. Timothy Leary; he recognized the tremendous potential of LSD, but a few people had bad reactions, (usually because it caused them to recoil in fear when they realized what evil monsters they had lurking inside themselves). Although it was initially intended to be used in conjunction with close supervision and therapy, it was not just too much fun for America’s Puritanical, pleasure-hating society…It had all the earmarks of Beelzebub and Revolution to the fearful eyes of the Powerful….”

“The result was that LSD was made illegal, so it could no longer be used for legitimate purposes by trained professionals. That resulted in “bathtub” chemistry, uncontrolled and unknown quality and strength, uncontrolled settings and circumstances, and instead of professional supervision, it now required commission of a felony to manufacture, sell or possess…all in the name of protecting the public from itself….”

The Wisdom was just so much more…all initial indications were that it truly enhanced and enlightened Consciousness, Awareness and Sentience in a way that was powerful. Ash, Kali and Merle had already learned to combine Tantric, Wicca, and Shamanism in a way that was producing tangible results in all their lives.

The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil had gotten Adam and Eve banished from the Garden…That Fall from Grace had cursed Man to an endless cycle of Desire and Suffering because they lacked the ability to separate the two. The Wisdom might just be able to empower Man to walk with God.

Merle suddenly decided it was time for him to Dress for the occasion….

Dress for Success

Merle paused for a moment to reflect as he sat on the edge of his bed. It was a California King, vast…immense…sprawling, and yet, if he were to lay back on a diagonal with his arms and legs spread, he would cover most of it.  He often told people he was the second-shortest member of his family, surpassing only his mother, a mere petite five feet, sixteen inches.

The Apache possess a gene or two that often produce very tall offspring, but unlike the Watutsi, they tended to be bigger-boned and more broad-shouldered like the Mandé. Most of Merle’s relatives, however, would have been immensely offended by the comparison to African tribes.

It would seem that those who suffer from racism frequently are just as prone to indulging in it as those who would pre-judge them, but to Merle (who was in fact named after Merle Haggard, not Merlin the Magician) it was all a tragically amusing illusion in which it seemed all peoples indulged.

He considered himself fortunate that he came from a family of Shamans, Brujos, Sorcerers, and Medicine Men and Women that raised him in an atmosphere of enlightenment and tolerance. That tolerance was especially important to Merle, given a few of his proclivities, as we shall see….

As he sat upon the edge of the bed he meditated, eventually allowing himself to visualize what should be his choice of wardrobe for this evening’s ceremonies.

A great number of his practices allowed him to wear long flowing robes, which he preferred whenever possible, and was generally his mode of dress within his home…what was not generally known, except to his very closest of acquaintances was what he often wore underneath.

Merle admitted that he liked leather and denim as much as he liked satin and lace. Although he was preternaturally handsome and well-muscled, he had little body or facial hair and his features were somewhat androgynous in the same way that certain Nordic or Arian female genotypes may be stunningly beautiful while nonetheless lacking certain typically feminine features per se.

The robe he visualized for the occasion was a light, very breathable unbleached linen, with a few essential talismans silkscreened onto it. Underneath that he would be wearing a pair of black silk panties that Kali had hand-sewn to his exact specifications, which included enormous provision for his massive cock, and a nude-colored chemise, also silk with a modest amount of black lace trim.

Merlin had developed a rather off-hand, but possibly valid explanation for his fetish for lingerie, and it was this: “Women wear lingerie because Men think it’s sexy, and it makes them desirous, which is very frequently true (unless you’re Amish or something)…and it has a way of being able to create impressions, or change the way one’s body looks down to downright camouflage. It’s empowering to women…”

So maybe it’s part envy, and part auto-eroticism…If you watch a bass chase the same lure, over and over again, because of the color, or the way it moves, or wiggles, there’s some kind of inborn reaction, almost like a reflex arc.

In the case of lingerie, I like he way it makes me feel…it makes me feel sexy. I love when women wear lingerie, so why shouldn’t I?

The contrast of his smooth high cheekbones and his smooth, supple almost wiry build, long straight shining black hair and his extremely well-endowed loins was usually jaw-dropping to most females who eventually joined the soft parade of admirers who became worshipers in more ways than one.

Although he was disinclined to permit measurement of his viande, it was clearly well over a foot in length, about the same circumference as his wrist and uncircumcised. Even in his workplace, he had become subject of whispered rumors, urban-legendary tall-tales and great speculation even among the men with whom he worked…it was as if everywhere he went, there was someone who knew someone who knew him in the biblical sense….

When he was younger, he had struggled with developing the off-handed and simple acceptance of his biological inheritance that he now possessed. He exuded a humble self-confidence that is clearly lacking in most people that made him respectfully approachable. Almost everyone seemed to possess a desire to befriend him, although he admittedly stuck to a doctrine of Love Many and Trust Few…(and always paddle your own canoe).

“Goo Goo G’Joob…I am the Walrus…AND the Carpenter….” he mused as he stood before the mirror.

Among other coincidences of alignment of time and space, it was also the anniversary of the publishing of Finnegan’s Wake.

“The time has come… he said at last, to talk of many things: of shoes…and ships…and sealing-wax… of cabbages…and kings… and why the sea is boiling hot… and whether pigs have wings.”

(The Lobster Quadrille, by Lewis Carrol)

“…and I have a powerful hunger for seafood.”

Food for Thought, Food for Spirit, Food for Body and Soul

Kali stepped back and surveyed the table she had set. Sushi, Sashimi, Hijiki and Sunomono salads, fresh kiwi, limes, lemons, mango, and pineapple as well as Miso and Shark Fin soups were arranged around platters of grilled Mahi, Tuna, Lobster, Cobia and Wahoo. A bucket of steamed blue mussels, clams and oysters were surrounded by several dozen half-shell clams and oysters. Unagi, uni-ikura don and uni-uzura occupied the rest of the available space not taken by bottled water, hot and cold sake, and a bottle of reposado Tequila…although there would not be a lot of alcohol consumed, a little taste of this or that seemed to help clear the palate and aid the digestion.

There would not be a great deal of gluttony either, regardless of the sumptuous presentation. The raw items sat on little beds of ice, and everything left over would either be eaten on Saturday afternoon before the show, or after. Visitors and guests were so commonplace at their home that almost nothing ever remained long enough to spoil.

To Kali, this was not just food…it would be fuel. The table was set so as to place a sort of alter at its head, as if Elijah, Buddha, Krishna, Vishnu, Ganesh, Changó and the Orichás and Guerreros of Lukumi, and several other prophets, spirits, messengers and gods of every known Pagan and Wicken practice, plus their namesakes, Kali and Ashtar would all be invited to dinner as well.

Cohibas and rum rounded out the rest of the venue, placed on the altar for later offering and consumption.

A mirror was placed behind the altar, with a single lit candle in front of it.

Tonight would be a summonsing of power and advice from those best suited to offer it.

The Magic Theater is not for Everyone

Merle was the first to arrive. Although it was not uncommon for him to let himself in, Kali made it a special point to greet him at the door. Although Kali and Ashtar were legally married, they all considered the union between Merle and Kali to be a marriage as well. He was not just the other man in her life…they had been deeply in love for as long as the three of them had known each other, and she very much wanted to greet him at the door as a wife does to her husband.

She was dressed in the sheerest and lightest material she owned, a sort of harem-pajama set that included bells for her wrists and toes. The filmy material clung to her voluptuous figure in some places, like her nipples, and made them hard, like they were trying to push through the outfit; clung to her belly and accented her navel and billowed in the most provocative way before burying itself deeply into the crevice of the entrance to the temple of the holy of holies…even the fabric seemed to worship her body.

Merle was no exception.

The smile on his face convinced her that her wardrobe choice was correct, and the passion that sparked between them as their lips met was electric. As their bodies pressed together during their lingering embrace in the doorway, they felt a wave of passionate desire wash over them…it had been weeks since they had seen each other, and the extended momentary contact had left them collectively gasping, wet, and hard.

This was exactly the way to begin the evening…an embrace, a kiss and that longing expression of desire to start to build the fires of passion that would engulf the three of them tonight…the more that they wanted to surrender to the tempest of eroticism that their bodies promised, the sweeter the pangs of anticipation they felt as they ever so slowly gazed into each other’s eyes as they gently withdrew, smiling in the knowledge of what was to become even more intense as the evening progressed, leading, teasing, and beguiling them into the ecstatic crescendo that avowed itself, both sexually and spiritually to explode within them when it finally could no longer be postponed.

“I missed you so much…I always do…” she suddenly blurted out as they stood touching only their fingertips together.

“…and if it was not so sweet to miss you the way I do when I am away, just so we can feel like this when we meet again, I might covet what you and Ash enjoy on a daily basis…but what we have would not be possible in the everyday world…you and he have the comfort of stability, support and consistency…for us, each day together is a holiday of celebration of the present moment…and of ourselves.”

“And I must be the luckiest woman in the world to love and know you both.”

“Madame, it would give me the utmost pleasure to do everything in my power to convince you that you are right.”

They both began to laugh as Ash pulled into the driveway.

Ash’s face beamed in a way that no ordinary husband could, given the fact that his wife and his best friend are also passionate lovers. He took great pleasure in knowing that in granting Kali and Merle his blessings and support, he gave them something that can only be given out of the greatest sort of love any person can know…to bequeath another something that is already theirs to begin with, even if they don’t know it until it is proffered….

It seemed to take a thousand forevers for Ash to carry his guitar up the driveway to the house, and as he entered, he put the guitar down to embrace Kali. Once he kissed her, the three of them stood together hugging, with Kali in the middle, a position in which she was exquisitely comfortable…and adept.

“I need a three-minute shower and a change of clothes if I am going to be any kind of company this evening. I’d like to slip into something more comfortable, and I can’t imagine anything more comfortable than you my dear, but for the time being, I’ll have to settle for something befitting the occasion…something…auspiciously sexy?…hmmm….”

“How about something that comes off easily?” Kali volunteered.

“I know just the thing,’ he quipped.

In less than five minutes, he returned, freshly showered, wrapped in a Hawaiian-print beach towel.

There is something mystically supernatural in the connection between seafood and sex and the very oceans themselves. Mere fresh water does not impart the galvanic charge, the ion potential that is to be exploited from that Strega brew conjured in the provocative saline diluvium of the seas so as to be vividly swept away by a flood of passions that are evoked by the taste and aroma itself.

Seafood tastes like sex because sex tastes (and smells) like Life.

For just a moment, the three of them stood there, just staring and smelling the banquet, before Kali broke the silence.

“But wait! ….There’s more! I took the liberty of turning and setting the vaporizer…Merle, if you would be so good as to do the honors…as a prelude to the prelude….”

“But of course, Madame Weasel” replied Merle in a very thick, phony faux Français as he pulled back his thick, coarse straight black hair into a pony tail and produced a vial of concentrated THC from a hidden pocket in his robe. “I feel sorry for any family that does not have a resident Chemist to keep them properly supplied with the finer things in life.”

“For which we are eternally grateful, Monsieur H’Ouiselle.” quipped Ash in an even worse accent.

“The benefits derived from ingesting Cannabis Sativa, Indica or any of the associated derivatives, extracts and elixirs containing trans delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol by the method known as vaporization is immense. Eliminating the need for combustion to administer potent concentrations of its psychoactive properties has decided health benefits as well…and this trio of pranksters literally thrive on the stuff…”

“Oh yeah, Hello, It’s Me, Raul, again, your narrator for the evening…I hope you enjoyed some of my previous appearances and performances as the Talking Cuban Tree Frog…Needless to say, I wouldn’t have missed this evening for all the flies in the Everglades…but wherever are my manners?”

“Please allow me to introduce Sharma and Sobe, my companions who will be acting as ushers for the impending guests who may start arriving any time now. Although they appear to be a matched pair of male and female lizards, they are (within a certain variety of Reality) very old souls who were summonsed here a long time ago, who just fell in love with the surroundings and decided to stay…who knows how long? How long is a piece of string? They have no use for Man’s preoccupation for measuring something that He himself made up which does not really exist at all…do not be offended if they do not speak…they prefer to rely on The Knowing, and hope that they may help you experience it for yourselves.”

(Camera simultaneously pulls back and zooms out slowly from the extreme close-up of Raul, headset, script et al, to reveal two beautifully incarnated Iguanas gracefully choreographed into an almost continual soixante-neuf ballet of mutual pursuit, who suddenly stop to look toward the camera long enough to wave like British Aristocrats before suddenly nodding and crouching in unison twice before re-commencing their pas de deux on the massive trunk of the banyan tree that overlooked the spacious front windows of the house.)

(Raul continues…) “Some of you may be offended that a respected Botanist/Research Pharmacist, a Cleric and their mutual Concubine are ingesting a substance once illegal in the State of Florida…for any purpose, even Scientific or Spiritual Research or Worship, but that’s just the way they roll, and to quote Ash ‘If you can’t take a joke, them go fuck yourself…if you can’t find anyone to do it for you…’ but it is now time to resume observation of our subjects for tonight’s episode of Inter-Galactic Geographic.”

(Raul now turns his attention back to the interior of the house as the camera dollies and zooms back in through the window.)

Illumination…

Ash, Kali and Merle enjoyed the meal like bees going from flower to flower, stopping here and there to sip, to sample, to taste, to empower themselves, define and refine their vibrations, and prepare for tonight’s venture. They were careful not to turn their backs to the Orichás and Los Guerreros especially, but although they walked around most of the table, they did not walk behind the alter set at the head of the table nor in front of the mirror.

They enjoyed feeding each other little bits and bites of this and that in various combinations, sharing the tastes, textures and aromas, sometimes by fork, by spoon, by chopstick, by hand…or by mouth. They touched each other provocatively as they ate, and even licked each other’s fingers, faces, and necks as any of them found themselves inclined to do.

As they finished their sake, Merle produced what he had previously called The Knowledge of Good and Evil, which he had put into three black capsules of five hundred micrograms each, plus a buffer that helped facilitate safe transport via non-isotonic concentration gradients across the cell membrane.

Merle had the most amazing insights into visualizing molecules that induced particular changes as well as steady states in the bio-molecular substrates of the neurochemistry of the brain. Even he did not claim to know the sources of his inspiration. He said he would close his eyes, and eventually he would feel an awareness of how each portion of the molecule would function. (He did not discuss this gift with his employers, of course.)

First Kali, then Ash, and finally he opened their mouths like supplicants taking the Sacrament for Communion as he popped a cap into each of their mouths, raising his sake as if toasting everyone, he said “The Knowledge of Good and Evil is too pretentious and long a name to call this. From now on, we shall call it ‘Kali’….”

Ash and Kali stood there with the black caps on their tongues in their open mouths for a second, smiled at Merle and drank the sake to wash down the drug in unison with Merle.

“…Merle…”

“Not now my friends…see what I have seen, and you will understand…trust me, I’m not likely to change my mind about it…at least just for now.”

“Ok.”

Kali was the first to disrobe, pulling just two strings that allowed her garment to fall to the floor, as she stepped out of her sandals. Ash released the tucked ends of the beach towel.

Only Merle remained clothed. He stood there, motionless save for the expressions that passed over his face like local weather cells in Florida. As the expressions changed from neutral, to nearly pensive, to shy, to mischievous, to provocative there was a visible change in demeanor as well as he went from androgynously male to androgynously female to amorphously ambiguous, a curious sort of glow emanated from within Merle’s aura that gave him the appearance of translucence.

“Now keep in mind, that they just dropped the drug, and I haven’t had any of it at all myself…hey, it’s me, Raul,” he whispered.

“…Well…Somebody has to provide unbiased witness to this event…it’s my journalistic duty…and besides, curiosity is not the exclusive domain of Felines you know, and as for mortality, well the reason humans think cats have nine lives is because the Satisfaction of Curiosity gives them a buoyant sort of protection that exists so strongly for them that it becomes real. Apache warriors undergo a ritual that imparts a metaphysical armor that becomes real…I’ve seen Merle administer it to several people before here…and it ends with them walking across a bed of fire…but not me…‘Froglegs’ is not how I wish to be remembered…but I have to know, and I have also to bear witness to such events, after all…inquiring minds want to know, and as a Doctor of Journalism, I am compelled…but watch this:…”

Merle stood facing Ash and Kali in what is often called anatomical position as he slowly raised his hands, palms up, thumbs out as he drew the tips of his thumbs to their respective index fingertips as he first inhaled through his nose, then slowly exhaled through slightly pursed lips. He sighed deeply, and proceeded to loosen his long black flowing hair, shaking his head as a horse shaking its mane. His hands now resembled the beatific, imploring or welcoming hands of several statues of Christ around the world. He then pulled the robe over his head to reveal the chemise and panties. He went from coy to unabashed in less time than it takes to tell.

First he looked them both deeply in the eyes, then lowered his gaze, adding “This is the only place I feel comfortable doing this, and I thank you so much for not only understanding this, but also for appreciating it on a level that enhances the experience…just for a little smile…But tonight is not a fashion show…goodbye drag…for now.”

Merle then launches into an English accent he uses whenever he quotes Lewis Carroll or Monty Python:

“Tis Time, my friends,

He said at last,

to speak of many things.

Of ships and shoes and sealing wax,

of cabbages and Kings.

And why the sea is boiling hot

or whether Pigs have wings…”.

With that, the lingerie was gone, and Merle stood before them naked. Six feet, ten inches of red-bronzed Apache flesh sculpture. The word statuesque would never seem the same to Ash and Kali without thinking first of Merle.

(“Just exquisitely a little past too much” thought Kali knowingly.)

Kali approached him first, and Ash followed, as the two men sandwiched her as Kali envisioned being Shish Kabobed; skewered between the two great loves of her life, slowly roasting over the flames of the fires of Passion and Lust, the hot coals sizzled scintillatingly as her juices drip onto the fire.

Kali’s face only comes up to Merle’s heart chakra, which she kisses as she slowly rubs Merle’s nipples, rolling them between her thumbs and forefingers. She then begins to bend over as she drags her tongue downward over his skin until she is nuzzling the peninsular magnificence of Merle’s thick, growing, rising cock. As it swells, the tip of the head begins to peek out past the foreskin, as if trying to look around the corner before venturing out.

Ash kneels behind her as he slathers her puanani with his tongue, spreading the wetness everywhere as Kali moans with a kind of resonance that is felt by both men.

All three of them are now just starting to feel the effects of the drug as their passions and metabolisms begin to skyrocket.

Kali abruptly spins around, bent completely over as she lifts herself at the hips by doing calf-raises in short, staccato beats. As she does so, she faces Ash, her face lightly perfumed by Merle’s pheromones as she deeply kisses Ash, savoring the aromas and flavors she has imparted to his face.

As she does so, she grasps first his shoulders, then his waist as she encourages Ash to stand up. As he does she impales first her mouth, then her throat upon Ashe’s spear. Merle is already standing and fully erect in more ways than one as he first slaps his viande against her buttocks before beginning to slowly rub, spread, and prod her labia gently, yet insistently as she mentally prepares to be stretched beyond her normal limits to accommodate pleasure.

Ash and Merle now find themselves staring into each other’s faces. It has never been uncomfortable for them in this circumstance, and although neither homophobic nor bisexual per se, they were quite at ease with their circumstance. (They rarely ever discussed “…that one night, when they were in college together….”)

Merle then pulled Kali down with him onto a thick rug that covered the wooden floor in front of the unlit flagstone fireplace, laid down upon his back with Kali spread-eagled over his face while Ash penetrated her from behind while she slathered Merle’s sex with her tongue.

They then turned around so Kali could ride Merle, cowgirl-style which took some considerable finesse despite the fact that they had been intimate with each other for years now. But once pinioned on his member, she began to move up and down until almost three-quarters of his length was inside her. Now it was his turn to move his hips as Ash slowly began to press his rigid prick against her anus, then slowly remove it and start again, gently dilating her sphincter as she began to moan wickedly as she gyrated her hips on Merle’s phallus.

The effects of the drug were fully upon them, although Merle said they were nowhere near the peak. Amber, gold, and neon-green seemed to envelop everything they saw, which seemed to glow from within. The music that was playing seemed unrecognizable except when a particular phrase or lyric seemed to jump out of the cacophony of the Gestalt of all the sounds that they found themselves suddenly noticing…

A symphony of airplane noise, fluorescent light transformers, refrigeration and air conditioning compressors, faraway dogs serenading unknown listeners, their own stomachs, several mosquitoes trying to hide in the kitchen under the table, every bird, every lizard, every cat, every frog, the expressway several miles away in the distance, every fly, moth, or caterpillar, a dripping faucet somewhere in the distance, the rustling of the leaves outside, each other’s breathing, as well as their own, in addition to a sound none of them could identify…a soft chorus of voices that seemed to lead the harmonization of all of the combined sounds into an orchestration of noise that suddenly sounded harmonious, as if it all was directed by some divine conductor.

They heard it, they sensed it, they knew it even before any of them acknowledged it. It also sounded like there was a drumbeat somewhere off in the distance… ‘Dirty Business’ from a Jerry Garcia solo album suddenly came to the forefront.

Kali also seemed to be going into a trance of some kind. She spoke in a deeper, more summonsing voice that suddenly cried out the names of heretofore unmentioned deities from the earliest beginnings of Man.

When she opened her mouth to speak, the sounds of other voices, as if trapped inside her were also trying to be heard, to get out. One of the voices was definitely speaking backwards. Although an absolutely alarming occurrence, the three of them remained intently enraptured, curious to find out what was next.

Kali’s body was repeatedly wracked by orgasm, again, and again, causing her to cry out wickedly as she began to laugh uncontrollably in short fits before lapsing into momentary silence.

Next, the room seemed to shake as if an earthquake was occurring, as if the house would split, the beams and rafters began to moan in an orgasmic chorus of impending chaos…except that Ash noticed that none of the glasses of sake were shaking, and that the chandelier was not moving or swaying.

A clarion call of giant horns sounding like the cries of whales underwater (or perhaps Gabriel’s Trumpet) seemed to drown out everything until one of them spoke softly, in a whisper that they all heard equally clearly.

As frenzied as their sex had been only moments before, they now began to notice figures that stepped out from the wooden paneling of the living room, only to retreat back moments later. A flash of light here, a darkening of the atmosphere that seemed to stream from one point to another, gather strength, and stream off again to another point. Knotholes that became eyes, or vaginas that winked back.

Kali seemed to be possessed of some spirit or spirits that spoke through her.

It was time to discover the source of the Majic that surrounded them everywhere.

Kali went to get a cauldron that she often used for scrying. She was still naked, flushed, and dripping when she returned with the vessel. She kept rainwater that she gathered from a hollow stump during the new moon at midnight.

She used a hibachi grill to heat the contents to boiling as they gathered on the porch, naked and huddled in the near darkness. Ash produced three boat seat cushions to use to kneel around the boiling pot of water first to read the vapors, then the reflections as Kali began to question their visitors.

Ash found it difficult to concentrate at first because he kept staring at Kali’s swollen, distended vulva. Kali was distracted by the fact that it wouldn’t stop throbbing, and Merle couldn’t take his mind off the smell of Kali’s snatch, that still lingered on his face. A Wiccan sorceress, a brujo, and a shaman are still human.

Time to cowboy up.

They had already decided earlier as to what they considered the primary purposes of this evening were to be. As much as they cherished the sex between them, tonight it was to be the vehicle they used to attempt to expand their consciousness sufficiently to make contact with the ancient ones to learn what they had to offer.

Now it appeared that they had enticed the spirits that surrounded them. They still wanted to make meaningful useful contact to gain wisdom.

This ‘Knowledge’ that they had taken was more powerful than any drug they had ever tried before…and they had done just about all of them, between Merle’s pharmacological and botanical experiences, as well as his status as a shaman, which helped provide access to many things.

‘Kali’ (the drug) was like psilocybin, peyote, LSD, and MDMA combined. It had physical body effects, including powerful stimulatory properties, it produced visions and interestingly enough, an extraordinary euphoria that gave the impression of insight, although they already knew better than to trust their current impressions completely until the next day, and they used the digital voice recorders on their phones for almost everything that transpired that evening. There was also a security camera that covered the entire back porch, just in case something visible appeared.

What no camera or recorder could document was the anticipated God Phenomenon that has previously only been experienced on a temporary basis by direct electrical stimulation of certain parts of the left parietal region of the brain. The unanticipated effects were proving to be far beyond their wildest anticipations.

They expected that the insights, revelations and self-awareness would probably occur during the later portions of their experiences this evening, much as it often does with psychedelic drugs in general.

As they stared at the boiling cauldron, Kali set a mixture of oil and alcohol that she poured onto the surface on fire, adding Dragon’s Blood and several other agents that produced various effects to aid in the process.

They held hands in a circle around the fiery cauldron. They chanted, and nothing happened. They waited for a moment, and a very large Macaw (not a native to Florida, it should be noted) flew to the porch, landed on the deck about six feet away and waddled the remaining few feet to the middle of the circle.

Just like that.

It walked right up to the flames, turned around to Kali, and asked “What’cha doin’ Toots?”

They all laughed, including the bird, who repeated its question as it hopped onto Kali’s lap.

 “Boop-Oopa Doop…What’cha doin, Toots?” As it cocked its head quizzically, shifting its weight from one foot to the other as it bobbed its head up and down.

Kali finally answered the rather persistent giant bird in an amused tone like she was talking to a small child, or like some pet owners do with their dogs and cats (or some spouse’s with their mates).

“We’re looking for a Spirit Guide, my friend.”

“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place?…Boop-Oopa Doop. What can I do for you?”

As stunned as they all were by the remark, they later noted to each other that at that moment they all experienced the so-called ‘God Effect’ while talking with this avian anomaly…not because they believed the macaw to be God per se, but they somehow sensed that it might just be a messenger…and that they experienced a heretofore unknown feeling of the workings of the cosmos within themselves…it’s hard to explain.

The Chinese say that to the man who has had the experience, no explanation is necessary, but to the man who has not had the experience, none will suffice. So it was for them that night.

“So you are to be our guide?” Kali inquired as she stroked the feathers on the bird’s head, which it clearly enjoyed.

“No, but I have been sent as a sort of messenger/emissary to you three to give you some badly needed advice…Boop-Oppa-Doop.”

“What advice?” asked Merle.

The giant Amazon turned its head around like an owl (which is quite unusual for this breed) and looked Merle straight in the eye.

“Listen carefully…you need more help…you need allies with whom you are quite literally willing to trust with your lives”

It then turned its attention to Ash: “You have a parish, and you have some valuable friends…it’s your decision as to whom you pick, but you and your most lovely wife must be at the center, like a nucleus, and Merle, your medicine man needs to be the North. He requires a female to be the South, and you need to choose a male and female East and West respectively. The four winds, the four seasons, the four elements, the four corners of the earth…it’s no coincidence. You can figure it out…I hope you can figure it out, because you face real danger if you go much farther without their assistance…Boop-Oopa-Doop.”

“How do we find them?” Kali inquired.

“Keep doing what you started…you’re on the right track, but you need one more ingredient…”

Wait!” Kali blurted out. “What is your name?”

“Boop-Oopa-Doop…at your service… “

She did a very impressive full bow as she extended her right wing which she swept from left to right rather formally in front of her.

“…but you can all call me Betty.” 

She leaned close to Kali and winked as she sniffed lightly… “Baby, you smell gooood! See you in the funny papers, Toots…I gotta go, but I still gotta give you one more thing before I leave so you can see properly…I’ll be Bach,” she quipped in a very poor Austrian accent.

With that Betty (Boop-Oopa-Doop) jumped down off Kali’s lap and jumped into the flames, producing an intense pure white light, like phosphorus, that temporarily blinded them.

As they stared into the neon-purple after effects of their blindness, what they all saw was Darcy, doing her ‘Bandaloop’ dance.

One down, two more to go.

The East and the West.

Kali, Ash, and Merle were stunned. The choice of Darcy to be the South to Merle’s North was perfect. She was young, and playful, and her Bandaloop Dance seemed to possess some real power of some sort, and her effect on the chimps and bonobos at the Habitat was already legendary.

They were still at a loss to divine the identities of the East and the West an hour later, no matter what Kali tried. They were very much under the influence of the drug, but were starting to get hungry and thirsty, and decided to take a break for awhile, and truth be told, they still wanted to take up where they left off when the spirits came out to play.

They even thought that perhaps if they resumed the show that the spirits might return, so they thought they would go back to the dining room to fuel up. They also were feeling like they needed to sit for a spell, so to speak, after kneeling for so long around the cauldron.

Ash sat down at the far end of the table, and Kali sat on his left. Merle sat opposite Kali, on Ash’s right. They noshed and sipped and mostly made small talk until Ash suddenly realized that the mirror they had placed behind the altar faced another mirror several feet behind his head, and it had created a series of reflections that extended back in both directions as far as he could see, producing an almost infinite cascade of increasingly smaller and smaller reflections of the same image, which he brought to Kali and Merle’s attentions, who were quick to point out that if they looked backward at the other mirror, they saw another series of the back of Ashe’s head as well, which he could not see, of course, but after he turned around to face the mirror behind him, when they looked back at the mirror behind the alter, what they saw couldn’t have shocked them more.

Instead of their faces reflected back at them, they instead saw the faces of Charles and Suki, but their reflection showed a curious series of concentric fractures around a hole in the center of the mirror that was not present in their mirror. Charles and Suki had told Ash about the experiences with their mirror, and they had shared their experiences with other members of the parish.

Charles and Suki believed they had created a portal for spirits to jump into their world, and had already had some very interesting encounters since the portal had been created.

As stunned as the trio was, Kali was the first to regain her indomitable sense of humor and waved at the reflections of Charles and Suki, who waved back….

It was now obvious to everyone as to who would be West and East. They tried to call Charles and Suki, but got a beep-through on their call-waiting, which turned out to be them. As excited as they all were about their discovery, they agreed to table the more complicated subject of their roles as East and West until Saturday.

The rest of the evening was spent in the pursuit of joyful licentiousness and enlightened gratitude, making a great deal of Joyful Noises to anyone who cared to listen, but Raul, Sharma, and Sobe were not the only ones to be their witnesses….

They Became What They Beheld

(More strong sexual themes and images…Hey Kids: This is not for you…get the fuck out…next time I will have to remember to put Vaseline on the doorknob!)

“When they returned to the paneled living room, they noticed the eyes and the vaginas were already winking at them. One of the things they found most interesting was the congruency of their images and visions. They were all having the same simultaneous experience. This is an extremely rare occurrence in occult drug experimentation.

Although I have witnessed some of the phenomena occurring here tonight, most of it seems to be a ‘group experience’ for Kali, Ash, and Merle…for a while, I thought it was just ‘mass hysteria’, but there is an intangible quality to all of this that intrigues my imagination and prompts me to continue my observations…oh what the fuck…who am I kidding?…as a journalist and reporter my objectivity flew out the window hours ago. I could (and have, in the past) watched them fuck for hours on end…my wife says it’s a sickness, and calls me a ‘peeping frog’…voyeurism is a relatively mild kink, all things considered, especially compared to these three acrobats…is there such a thing as a ‘sexual athlete?’ If so, they belong in the Olympics…I mean….”

(Raul, our reporter for Galactic Geographic has really begun to babble…but interestingly enough, Sharma and Sobe the ushers, find themselves quite busy once again. Apparently new guests are starting to arrive en masse.)

Kali had once remarked that “Even if I could unhinge my jaw like a snake, I’d have to stop waxing my mustache just to hide the stretch marks…just to get it in my mouth.…and don’t even fantasize about ‘Deepthroat!’” because sex with Merle necessitated extraordinary adaptive skills due to his sheer largesse.

Fortunately, Merle had also developed preternatural intuition and empathic skills, which meant he was patient and gentle to a fault; in fact, he often had to be encouraged to become more vigorous before he would even approach giving it his all (which never happened). 

(Btw: Kali’s parents  were Greek and Turkish, although collectively, most of the races got some representation in her gene pool, so Kali waxed “everything but my eyebrows and head.”)

Her skin was exquisitely smooth and fine-pored and a caramel-mocha color that resembled porcelain, or a properly smoked meerschaum pipe that lightened and darkened with the high and low surfaces of her voluptuously over-sculptured body.

Her flexibility and athleticism were well balanced by the fact that she also played several instruments, painted, sang beautifully and spoke more languages than she was inclined to admit. Ash and Merle both adored her and sometimes jokingly referred to her as their ‘home entertainment center.’

Somewhere between a classical geisha and a Renaissance Woman; (if such a thing were actually recognized, she would be the archetype).

Kali’s favorite ‘cum-pulsion’ was DP. She got a great deal of practice at it, and because Ash and Merle were equally inventive, athletic and broad-minded, they became very good at it. 

Because of the height disparities, this usually necessitated Merle having to lie on his back. Kali would then straddle him, with her feet flat on the floor so as to squat onto Merle, since the distance from her knees to her hips was not sufficient to allow her to kneel, at least initially.

Ash and Kali especially enjoyed anal when Merle was home, because they had more conventional congress when he was away. Ash was quite amply endowed, but anal with Merle was ‘almost’ out of the question (a discussion for another time and place), so their simultaneous coital congress usually followed the above paradigm more often than not. 

Even reverse cowgirl DP involved placing Ash’s buttocks in Merle’s face, which did little to enhance the experience for either of the men. (It’s not like they got much chance to get bored, all things considered.)

Depending on how long it had been since Kali and Merle had been intimate with each other, it would take an accordingly sufficient time for Kali to be able to accommodate Merle’s prodigious size, which eventually would result in Kali’s inner labia becoming enormously swollen and distended.

Despite what many men may proclaim in public however, it was Kali’s experience that almost all the men with whom she kept company or entertained were most appreciative of her condition and it was an extreme turn-on (fortunately) for both Ash and Merle.

And so it was that by approximately three AM after Friday the Thirteenth of Eternity, they were once again conjoined, reveling, nay wallowing in rut when the Ancient Ones began to make their presence known again.

The wooden paneling now produced tongues and phalluses (how often do you see that word written in the plural?) in addition to the eyes and vaginas. The tongues and phalluses writhed as the ocular and vulvar manifestations continued to bat and flutter approvingly. So intense was their desire that although they noticed the occurrences, they were not especially distracted by them in the heat of the moment.

This time, when the trumpeting began, they did not stop, but rather redoubled the intensity of their ferocious conjugation. They became more vocal themselves as the shuddering, groaning, shrieking earthquake around them erupted…into stone cold silence. Talk about being conspicuous in its absence, the deathly quiet of the room actually gave them momentary pause in time to witness a neon blue-violet conquistador step out from the walls in absolute silence.

He and the horse were in full vestments and armor as they both surveyed the room. After a moment, he waved the go-ahead signal used since earliest military times to signal an advance. With that, as they proceeded through the room, they were followed by a multitude of figures of every description as the walls morphed into what resembled a Mayan Amphitheater where Sharma and Sobe were escorting these paranormal dignitaries to their seats.

Vendors appeared, dispensing all manner of exotic delicacies (most of which looked bizarre to the trio) as if they were ‘Red Hots.’

“Welcome my friends, to the show that never ends;

we’re so glad you could attend.

Step inside, step inside…”

‘Welcome to the Show” 

(Emerson, Lake and Palmer) 

When Kali shrieked in ecstasy, a maelstrom of voices emerged. As Merle groaned and bellowed it was as if an elephant was trumpeting while Ash growled like a grizzly bear in rut.

The audience began to clap and chant in tongues unknown to them, which they seemed to understand intuitively.

The drumming became louder as more and more percussion instruments were added to the mix. An orchestra of aliens played a symphony of obscure instruments that appeared to be conducted by Lord Krishna himself.

Los Guerreros and all the Orichás were in attendance.

Rati was costumed as a cheerleader performing on the floor of the amphitheater, doing handstands and backflips with no panties. Familiar, recognizable figures of historical religious note came and went. Lost Souls of every type and description flew, zapped and zigzagged hither and yon, sometimes zooming in close and personal, even fondling, stroking, sniffing and licking the trio.

The amphitheater shook until it seemed it would  crumble and collapse upon them all, but they did not stop. They seemed to possess superhuman strength and stamina as the frenzy reached its crescendo to the cheering of the assembled multitude.

They awoke at dawn to the sound of a rooster crowing to announce the arrival of the sun.

Charles, Suki, Darcy and Mark were also knocking on their door.

The Four and the Three

Ash answered the door wearing the beach towel he had abandoned earlier the night before. Fortunately, it was too early for the light to hurt his eyes. He was cheerful and upbeat, but clearly exhausted.

“I was afraid we would be too early…should we come back later?” Darcy blurted out. “I was afraid we would wake you.”

“That’s OK…I had to get up to answer the door anyhow…” quipped Ash with a slight smirk and a chuckle. “No seriously…come on in. We really want to talk with the four of you…but how did you know?”

“Charles and Suki called about an hour ago” said Mark and Darcy almost in unison.

“Oh really?” Merle was now standing behind Ash dressed in his robe. Darcy’s eyes were wide and expressive, but since her gaze met Merle’s as she scanned upwards from the ‘tent’ Merle had pitched under his robe, she suddenly blushed furiously.

Charles interjected “We saw the same thing you did, only in our mirror…the Bandaloop Dance…we had watched her do it a couple days ago, and both of us remarked how uplifting it was to see her do it…except in the vision, she was surrounded by chimps and bonobos and they were all doing this dance.”

“First, we saw you guys on the porch with the Macaw, but then, it was like the mirror zoomed in on the image of Darcy…we experienced the same kind of blindness…from the flash of light, and she faded in as our vision returned; then as it zoomed back out, we saw the whole image of Darcy, but without you three. There were hundreds of Chimps and Bonobos all around her dancing, following her every move like she was their Queen or something…it was quite moving, whatever the vision meant….”

“Boys! Boys! Wherever are your manners? Invite our guests inside, don’t keep them waiting in the doorway…Come inside…are you hungry? Would you like something to eat? We have so much to discuss…and figure out, but please do come in and make yourself comfortable.” Kali proclaimed in an exaggerated ante bellum Scarlet O’Hara sort of voice that dripped of Southern Hospitality, Magnolia and Jasmine.

She had gone to the bedroom and put on a colorful short sheer robe that clung to her curves like a formula one racer at Le Mans…it didn’t really hide much of anything, but Kali was neither shy nor modest in the least, and they were among friends…soon to be much closer friends.

Chairs were assembled around the dining room table. Kali fixed eggs and brought out bread to go with the fruit and fish. Coffee and tea were brewed, and everyone pitched in while they noshed and made small talk, mostly.

Once they got settled in and comfortable, they started to discuss their strategy. Ash was the first to speak.

“I’d be lying if I tried to tell you we really know what we are doing, or what to expect. You know we have been trying to make contact with The Ancient Ones, but we don’t even know what that really means. Since earliest times, they were regarded as gods or beings from another dimension.”

“They possess great power and have wisdom, insight and knowledge that we believe to be very valuable in our pursuit of our personal evolution. They all have different names, and various customs and rituals surround each of the cultures built around them, but there also is so much replication, or repetition and similarities in the way that they are summonsed, as well as differences in their ‘worshippers’ expectations of the results.”

“We are of the opinion that if we can find a way to cross over, or to attract them to us, that whatever ‘dimension’ or state of mind, or being upon which we meet, may well be shared by all the Ancient Ones…that there may be a common thread that allows us…well, Communion, if you will.”

Mark looked the most puzzled. “I’m not sure I understand….”

“It’s like you can surf Melbourne, Coco Beach, Cape May…or Maui, but it’s still surfing…you have to know how to surf…it’s a technique.” 

Charles and Mark had been friends for years, and he had a very deferential, almost fatherly way of interacting with Mark. He put his hand on Mark’s shoulder as he spoke. 

We are all attempting different ways to make contact.”

“We may be able to connect with the Akashic record. which is the sum total of all knowledge throughout the entire universe. It is believed to be attained through telepathic methods by communion with the Ancient Ones.”

“The greatest visionaries of all recorded history have frequently stated that they received visions and inspiration by virtue of telepathic methods. This includes Albert Einstein,, Satyendra Nath Bose, the theoretical physicist who worked with Einstein, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Ervin Laszlo, and many others.

In Sanskrit, Akasha means ’boundless space. It is an etherial plane and the source of everything that has been, or will be known.”

Merle took up the next part of the discussion. “I have discovered a drug that not only possesses so-called ‘psychedelic’ properties, but it also may enable a sort of bridge between Man and The Gods. I originally called it ‘The Knowledge of Good and Evil’…”

“The Fruit of the Tree?…that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden?” interjected Mark.

“Well…that’s the Christian Bible version of it…there’s a bit more to it according to a number of biblical scholars, but…” Ash tried to interject, but Merle took over.

“I have decided to call it ‘Kali’…Chemical Kali…I guess for obvious reasons…otherwise, no one would know if we were referring to our Earth Mother, or the vehicle we use to try to contact her and her friends.

Now it was Kali’s turn to interrupt.

“As flattered as I am…I’d like to suggest an alternate name…and an explanation for my motives.”

”When I was born, I was christened ‘Calliope.’ It’s a Greek name…the Goddess of Epic Poetry…Homer’s muse…the source of inspiration for the Odyssey…they pronounced it ‘Kal Ee Oh Pee’ but at school, the kids called me ‘Ka Lie Oh Pee’, like on a carousel…I hated the name, and the sound of the instrument, so when I left home, I changed it legally to ‘Kali’ for ‘The Dark Mother’ and Wife of Shiva…”

”So for the sake of avoiding confusion…how about if we call it something else…I’m honored by your dedication and we are the only ones who really need to know the origin of the name…please?”

“Hey, why not just shorten ‘The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’…to just ‘The Knowledge’? Our Kali is Kali…our very own ‘Dark Mother’…The Protector of Children, and a carousel goes around in circles, but never goes anywhere.”

”One of the Zen Patriarchs once said that to even say the name of the Buddha was like pouring a bucket of shit on his head…I know I am very new to the group, but it’s just a thought…” 

Darcy suddenly got shy and blushed…”I mean…well….”

“Check out the big brain on Darcy!” quipped Mark as he winked and gave her buttocks an affectionate and familiar squeeze. “I agree”.

“Well thanks for the flowers, big guy…” 

(an expression with which both of them were surprisingly comfortable, despite over six inches disparity between her height and Mark’s)

”…but I’d prefer to be known for my big heart.” She winked right back, and everyone agreed.

Ash took over the conversation again.

“So far, we believe that to ‘cross over’ we need to enlist the four winds, the four seasons, the four cardinal points of the compass that correspond to the four directions in Indian medicine, the four corners of the earth (also your head)…Kali and I are in the Sacred Circle, and Merle will be The North, Darcy will be the South, Charles will be the East, and Suki the West…”

“…uh, excuse me, but there are seven of us here…where do I fit in?”

Mark was understandably  anxious about where the discussion seemed to be heading.

Ash offered a suggestion.

“…Mark…we haven’t sorted out all the details of this yet…you have been a very special part of our group for too long to just be set aside or ignored like an old shoe…whatever we learn from all this will be shared.”

“Trust me…you do trust me, don’t you Mark?…Haven’t we always welcomed you into our home…and our bed?”

Kali looked into Mark’s eyes, and winked provocatively as she rubbed the inside of her right knee against his right inner thigh, stroking it lightly.

Kali had him on that…he could never resist her charm and beauty. He and Kali had been intimate more than a few times. They both genuinely cared for each other, and it was no accident that Mark had not been in a serious relationship for several years, until he met Darcy.

He once told Kali he would ‘…walk straight into the gates of Hell for her…’

Be careful what you wish for, Mark.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

So for the rest of the afternoon, they sat and talked and ate and wrote as they planned the next major event they knew would be coming. The actual day and hour was to be determined by astrological/solar/lunar calculations based on probabilities of likelihood of occurrences based on the synchronicities of several calendars upon which various spiritual practices were based.

There was more than a slight resemblance to coincidence between many of the sects, practices, and belief systems they had studied. Different phases of the moon or other planets could create alignment of particular forces, or entities.

In the eventuality that the convergences of similar forces were in agreement as to type or nature…the predominant tone, or theme, if you will of what was desired or anticipated by each belief, if not the actual desired result, the better the chances for a particular day or night yielding a particular desired effect. They were in no hurry.

They did, however commit to spending the next season of weekends together in The Asylum (their Rectory,) not as a place to commit the mentally and spiritually infirm, but rather a place where they sought Sanctuary and mutual support, comfort, and symbiosis. It would be a time of practicing practices.

They would be spending the next several weekends becoming acclimated to The Knowledge, as well as each other. Refining the Practicing of Practices of spiritual, physical, and sexual pursuits designed to summons sacred sex, out-of-body altered states, epiphanies, decries, oracles, omens, realizations, portents, and prophesies. It would be a time of sharing and learning and experiencing, and refining their techniques. To become Practitioners of their appointed Arts.

An air of excitement infused all of them with the enthusiasm of religious zealots, despite the fact that they didn’t really know what they were doing, or how to achieve their goals, the exact direction they were going, or even which was the correct direction…all the while impatient to start.

They researched files and sites that led them to other sites, all connected to each other by a few common threads. Phone calls were made to any place that could speak any of the languages that they collectively spoke. It was Homecoming Week, The Senior Prom and Mardi Gras combined.

The collective consciousnesses of a select group of individuals with a common purpose, and a sense of belonging to something even larger than the sum of the parts.

Musical groups, especially rock bands know that sense of belonging and common purpose. Military units deployed to foreign lands know that kind of camaraderie. Religious sects and communities like the Amish or Bush Mormons know a similar sense of community. Each of them possesses a set of requirements for membership, and a certain degree of secrecy surrounds the practices.

It was to be the Carnival. The next Bardo, leading to the ‘Profound Dharma of Self-Liberation through the Intention of the Peaceful and Wrathful Ones…’  or ‘Liberation through Hearing.’

Ash did his Saturday show as planned; he took a nap while the others brain-stormed their way right up until it was time for the show. Ash was brilliant, and focused and foretold portents of great things to come.

Charles continued to work on the Feeder Project (aka: the Talking Monkeys) and finally began to envision Frederick at his console, miles away in another facility, monitoring calls for specific verbal references, or buzzwords to match to the designated pre-recorded messages designed to stall and further validate and qualify the target.

He found himself trying to find a way to transmit the meanings of his messages in a way that Mark and Darcy had led him to believe Frederick to be capable of understanding on an elemental level.

Management did not know he even knew of Frederick, but taken on balance you could say they mutually agreed to an unstated ignorance to which they both espoused.

Mark had begun to talk a great deal with Charles about what happened when Man chose Reason over Instinct. A great deal of it centered upon conversations of the mind between Mark and Frederick.

He admitted it sounded vague and was completely unscientific, but he said that he and Frederick shared a knowledge that was passed between them like a peace pipe…sometimes, there were images, and feelings. And Darcy had experienced the knowing with Frederick as well, both collectively and independently of Mark.

Mark planned to research certain messages for congruencies or definable or identifiable similarities or connecting threads to document these telepathic experiences without specifically disclosing his intentions to Management.

It was not the kind of research the Center was looking to sponsor or divine, and he did not want to share the results with anyone other than Charles, and maybe Ash, who had become quite interested in ‘where the Ape stopped and the Man began.’

Charles and Mark also began to collaborate on sonic and visual stimuli to enhance and guide their experiences with The Knowledge. Charles had extensive experience with film, sound and video production, but he would be too busy with the ceremonies that were being envisioned to be conducting the orchestrated events.

Instead, he would collaborate and choreograph with Mark to provide something to inspire and provoke without specifically knowing the intended results. Besides, Mark needed a focus to diffuse his attentions away from feeling unnecessary. Not jealous, just non-essential, or superfluous to the impending Ascension.

Darcy was beginning to take Frederick away from the Habitat more and more frequently, and for longer periods of time. Lilith enjoyed the solitude with Malkira and Frederick clearly enjoyed the company of other humans, even more than the company of other chimps or bonobos.

He was different, and he knew it, expressing pride in being the only one if his kind, “The One and Only Bonanzee”…but he wanted identification and validation with someone or something other than himself, and Mark and Darcy were becoming more acutely aware of his isolation, not by his signing, but by this shared knowing they experienced.

Kali and Suki collaborated on working out the astrological balances of the group. They turned out to be an interesting mix of influences, but most importantly, they amplified and nullified each other in kind as needed to keep them on course and high-functioning, as well as nurturant.

Ash was Aries. Charismatic leader, performer. Front man and facilitator for all things interesting. Half the bivalent nucleus of the Sacred Circle, he is elemental Yang.

Kali was Aquarius. A Liaison Between Parties, The Dark Mother. Protector of all Children. ’The Pornographic Priestess of Sacred Sex’. She embodied the Yin counterpoint of the Sacred Circle. She is the vessel, the mortar, and the crucible. Her name in Sanskrit is said to be the origin of the word Cunt in all of its most sacred and profane majesty.

Charles was Gemini. He could be many people, known by many names. He was a catalyst and a healer who loved broadly and deeply, but kept the darker side of his nature ‘Locked up in a cage in the basement…’ to only be let out in dire emergencies, and who merely wished to ‘do good with impunity and without fear.’ He was the unspoken protector of the group. He is the West.

Suki was Leo. The Lioness, protector of her pride. A medium for all sorts of Lost Souls with unfinished business on this, or the other side. A witch, a bruja, a Strega, sorceress, necromancer, teller of fortunes, a seer, an oracle and living altar of paganism. She is the East.

Mark was Libra. He was a champion of Justice, Balance, Fairness and compassion. Lover of animals and children, he makes friends easily, despite a touch of shyness that women find irresistible. No specific direction can be ascribed to him, at least not yet.

Darcy was Sagittarius. The Zen Archer. The proverbial sadder-but-wiser girl with a heart of gold and feet of clay, she is a lover and a giver to a fault. Quick to bed, but slow to Love, she is plagued by desires for things she does not yet know, as well as ones she knows all too well. More intelligent than she cares to acknowledge and wiser than she realizes, she can be powerful despite her ‘afflictions.’ She is instinct and spontaneity, and the mortar in which the ingredients are ground and mixed. She is the South.

Merle is Capricorn, an alchemist, a botanists, chemist, and a Shaman, a conjuror of spells and states of mind, visions, and spell-binding weaver of dreams. The pole-star in their constellation. He is the pestle. He is the North.

They all spent the next week preparing and anticipating in their own ways for their individual and collective Initiation into the Ways of Majic.

Begin to Beguine

The next Friday night Mark, Darcy, Charles and Suki were back at the Sanctuary early to begin the preparations for that night. Kali and Merle were waiting for them. Merle capped up seven more doses of what he finally decided should be called The Knowledge.

He decided to up the dose to seven hundred and fifty micrograms each. No reason to suspect any adverse reactions at that strength, especially since he had already tested it at twice that…one point five milligrams. He recalled that the afternoon he had met Darcy was the first time he had done that high a dose.

She had been on Merle’s radar ever since, and lately he found himself thinking about her more and more often the last few days. He and Mark had already had that conversation about how Mark felt about not only Darcy, but also about how he felt about Merle and Darcy.

All of them had been very close for years now, and there had been more than a few temporary liaisons that had come and gone, although most of them had been initially attracted to Merle.

Mark was not nearly as prolific as Merle when it came to female companionship, but everyone knew that it was partly due to the fact that Mark had been in love with Kali ever since the first time they had been intimate with each other.

Merle had his own room at the Sanctuary, as well as his own home, and had never lived with a woman. Mark had several ‘roommates’ before, but none of them were especially thrilled with Mark’s relationship with Kali, and neither of them did anything to hide the fact.

Mark brought quite a few women into the group over the years, but they came and they went eventually, some sooner, some later. Darcy was the first woman to get it as far as how the members of the group fit into each other’s lives, in spite of the fact that she had not really been exposed to Polyamory as a lifestyle, with long-term relationships, or no jealousy that couldn’t be resolved.

Darcy had lived with several different men over the years, but never really felt in love with anyone before Mark. Her parents and all her peers had been involved in one dysfunctional relationship after another, following their hearts as innocently as children, but always ending tragically despite their best efforts to make it work. Darcy grew up not expecting too much from love until she met Mark.

Different paths had led them together, but as they became closer and more candid with each other, they found that each of them had something to give the other, just by being themselves, and allowing the other to act spontaneously with the good faith that they would find it in their hearts to give each other the benefit of the doubt when it did arise.

There is no roadmap for Polyamory, and anyone who claims to have The Answer to Much of Anything Worth Knowing should probably be given the same level of respect as a lightning rod salesman.

Until you come to certain levels of understanding about yourself, you can only get so far before you reach some kind of an impasse. You have to be prepared to accept everything without flinching, without blinking or compromising.

Compromise is a slippery slope at best. As soon as you start to modify your behaviors, you have to question whether or not you are really compromising your ideals, if not your Self. Every day is a conscious choice. No one can make those choices for you.

In a perfect world, there are no arguments because understanding is achieved in a place before words, even before ideas.

In a perfect world, we would all come and go freely, and trust in the fact that all things will unwind according to their nature, which cannot be denied. You have to let go of the illusion of control.

If you want to experience true understanding, go ask a dog about the moon.

Darcy once said “If you just let one day happen at a time, the future will take care of itself, one way or another. If you compromise yourself too much just to make it work, what you get when it does…if it does, won’t be what you really wanted anyway…and you can only lie to yourself for so long, no matter how well you lie to others.”

“When I get to the end of my life at least I will know I was true to myself. I want to believe that I will get the opportunity to share that with someone who will appreciate me as much as I do them.”

They shared a slightly cynical fatalistic point of view that allowed them to love each other with a wild abandon that precluded worry about consequences that couldn’t be avoided.

Mark knew Darcy would be hot for Merle as soon as she met him, and accepted the inevitable with this amazing attitude that just fascinated Darcy even more. Initially, Mark was unsure if Darcy would be as understanding of his relationship with Kali as he was about her attraction to Merle.

Darcy had been the first to get ‘restless leg syndrome’ in all her previous relationships because she was never really in love with most of the men in her life before Mark. She had learned to not expect too much from Love early on in her life. Easy come, easy go even though she secretly knew that she longed for so much more…she just never quite knew what it was, she just knew how she wanted to feel….

Mark had to admit he did feel a bit of a pinch, maybe a wistful pang knowing that no one who ever had sex with Merle was ever quite the same. It was an experience that transcended his tremendous size, or even his skill as a lover. It was everything from his presence, his energy level, his guile-less confidence balanced by his tremendous humility…and his accessibility, balanced by his ‘Loving Detachment,’

Merle was also deeply in love with Kali, but understood that he received and fulfilled needs with Kali in being himself just as he was because the roles they played in each other’s lives suited both their natures.

Merle explained it like this: “There will always be times when you will be struck by loneliness and emptiness whether or not you are with someone else at the time. When you feel that angst, that pang, you have to lean into the feeling, and embrace it whether it feels like an arctic blast of air that will freeze your lungs, or  a searing desert sirocco that seems to suck your breath away.”

”It is your life calling attention to itself, to remind you just how precious each moment is.”

Without emptiness and longing, there would be neither need nor appreciation of the comfort and sanctuary of Completion.

Kali, Suki, and Darcy started early getting the food and drinks ready for the evening. Once they started the evening, none of them wanted to be either burdened or wanting for anything.

Ash arrived last, even though he ran the rehearsal early. Meanwhile, Merle, Charles, and Mark occupied themselves with furniture, pillows, blankets, candles, lights, music and all things magical, including The Knowledge.

Multiple altars of a sort, with mirrors set to reflect into each other from various points of view were arranged in several different locations, including the patio, the living room, and each of the bedrooms, including Merle’s.

Charles and Mark had devised a series of mirrors and green and red argon lasers to visually approximate the Tree of Life from the Kabbala. This had been their first project together. 

Charles tended to be a bit excessive when it came to details concerning an idea or a vision he might get, but the group was already used to his methods, and he generally took the attitude of ‘Fish, Cut Bait, or Swim’ as regards his pursuits.

He was responsible for the visual and auditory support at THFWS, and he had earned himself a position of respect within the congregation, and as they were now also broadcasting, he had found ingenious ways to produce different presentations leading to the same effect on small screen as well as mass audiences, and all the TV feeds carried a seizure potential warning/disclaimer that was aired before the show began. (And Yeah, It really was that good).

Charles was an artist in his own right, but never managed to acquire the wealth he needed to support his artistic pursuits, which virtually never managed to pay for themselves much beyond the cost of the production. He said he once figured that his accumulative hourly wages for his audio-visual multimedia projects came to about twenty-five cents per hour, but he loved the work of his art and worked as a telemarketer to pay the bills for him to live.

His Tree of Life had proven to be quite an undertaking, but once it was finished all agreed that it was more than worth the effort. It stood over twelve feet tall, but the vaulted ceiling in the living room was easily capable of accommodating it.

Ash talked about moving it into the auditorium for services eventually, but Charles insisted it would be better to make another, even larger version for the services anyway. It seemed that the alignment of the beams and mirrors was very critical to work properly to give the desired effect.

They all stood around the Sefirot as Charles began to demonstrate and explain what it represented while Merle handed out The Knowledge.

Charles Explains the Sefirot

“So how long before we start to notice any effects?” Charles asked Merle. “Is there anything we should anticipate, or be aware of?

Merle explained “It’s very subtle in some ways. Minimal body effects; you don’t get that nervous, almost feverish sensation initially like with acid, but you do get a definite exhilaration, a mild euphoria, and a kind of rush a bit like MDMA. No nausea, no dizziness or lightheadedness in either Kali or Ash’s experiences, as well as my own. Both men and women tend to experience a heightened sexuality, at least so far with a very limited number of subjects, all of whom are highly sexed to begin with.”

“Part of the reason we decided to call it the ‘Knowledge’ is because you will experience this state of mind…of Knowing…of understanding…everything. Whatever catches your attention will be perceived as how it relates to everything else…its purpose and place, if you will.”

“You start to really feel and sense on a very visceral level the interconnection between not just other people or objects, or actions, but you also start to feel the connections and importance and meanings of your own actions in a way that you never perceived before.”

“It is hard to describe in words, but as they say… ‘to the man who has had the experience, no explanation is necessary and for the man who has not had the experience, no explanation will suffice…trust me Charles, you were born to love this…and it was born to be loved by you.”

“I hope so. I could really use a spiritual pick-me-up these days.” Charles remarked.  

“You can be as analytical as you are inclined to be, but eventually you will understand that all this supersedes and supplants analysis.” Merle added.

“As you all well know, this ain’t my first rodeo, and I just want to know what to expect…and by the way, if I start to get too bogged down in the details and explanations, which is a definite possibility if I don’t finish before the real festivities begin, don’t hesitate to politely tell me to shut the fuck up, OK, everybody?”

They all agreed, and Charles began.

“Now keep in mind, most of what I have done is an approximation of a concept taken from the Kabbalah, and available on Wikipedia and similar internet sources, although I did speak with a couple rabbis that Suki knew since she was just a kid over in North Miami Beach. Her mom was fascinated by Kabbalah, so she was some help too.”

“This light-sculpture is meant to represent the Sefirot, or the Tree of Life.”

“The idea to keep in mind is that this is not an approximation of God, or even multiple Gods, but a roadmap of how Judaism sees as the path to their God, and it does point out a few principles that allow one to realize and manifest higher consciousness.”

“The “Sefirot” literally means ‘counting/enumeration,’ but other meanings of the root word include sefer (text), sippur (recounting a story), sappir (sapphire, brilliance, luminary), separ (boundary), and safra (scribe). The term Sefirah has many varied connotations.”

“The Sefirot are considered revelations from Arafat, the Father of Creation and they should not be understood as ten different “gods” but as ten different ways the one God reveals his Will through them.”

“Keter (The Divine Will) is listed as the first Sephirah, it is an intermediary above consciousness between God and the other, conscious Sephirot.”

“The head/beginning that is not known” is united above the Sephirot with the Ein Sof (Divine essence). It is not God who changes but our ability to perceive God that changes.”

“The Yosher-Upright version of the Sephirot as the Tree of Life is conceptualized by Ten Sephirot in three columns with twenty-two connecting paths that correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.”

“The Right column represents the spiritual force of expansion. The Left represents its opposite, restriction. The Middle column is the balance and synthesis between these opposing tendencies.”

“The Divine principles are described through the soul of Man, with Binah (Understanding) and Malkuth (Kingship), Shechinah (Indwelling Divine Presence), encapsulating the Divine Feminine in Creation, the principle of receiving, nurturing and pregnant internalization…The Union of the Woman and the Man.”

“The Kabbalah relies heavily on the interconnections believed to exist between numbers, letters of the alphabet, and inherent meanings of each of these numbers and letters. One of the goals is Teshuva (Return to God) in preparation to reliving the acceptance of the Torah.”

“Each of these stages or paths is counted and meditated upon between the Counting of the Omer, to count the 49 days of personal spiritual development between the festivals of Passover and Shavuot.”

 “I will be adding other representations of Mind/Body/Soul interconnections to this light sculpture, if you will, that will attempt to unite them into a sort of Universal Equation for Spirituality that explains and depicts the various factorials into a sort of Rosetta Stone of the Spirit. All of which will be incorporated as any of us learn to share our understandings with each other. (‘This is just the beginning’).”

“I also want to incorporate things like the Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State, or Bardo Thodol, the Reticular Activation System, Reptilian Memory, the Medulla Oblongata, and both Primal Experience as well as The Akashic Record into it as a way of facilitating and molding or setting an experience of Oneness, and connection with everything else.”

“This represents a concept of among other things, sentience.”

“The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil could represent the fruit of the Tree of Life. This knowledge could be thought of as Buddha-Nature, implying that when man first ate from the Tree of Life or Knowledge, he became truly sentient. The missing link, so to speak as the crossover from ape to man by virtue of sentience.”

“Desire and suffering are forever linked, but only through Reason do sentient become able to see the connections, and in so doing, learn acceptance of one’s current circumstances as a way to cope with the angst of Life in a Godless Universe, which is to say that since the entire universe is created within my own mind, each of us either chooses to create their God in their own image…or not.”

“Animals experience Desire and suffering as well, but without Reason, they see no connection between them, so their perception is not clouded by either rumination or fearful anticipation. They live only in the present moment.”

’Similarly, the Dog has Buddha-Nature, even if he does not know it. 

“What if God only intended to keep Mankind as a sort of pet monkey that somehow got into the cookie-jar of Sentience, and resulted in God making Man choose between Reason and Instinct, then ejecting Adam and Eve from the Garden?”

“Although Judaism stresses a monotheistic view of God, it should be noted that in at least one translation of the bible, God is quoted as saying “They think they are like Us…” after learning of Adam and Eve’s consumption of the ‘fruit.’ From this are we to infer that there is in fact more than one God?”

“Otherwise, why is he so jealous? Of what? To whom is he speaking? How many other choices are there on the Menu? And what do we get with the other choices?”

“Many of us aspire to connect with The Akashic Record, which presupposes the existences of many great and powerful ones who have attained the ability to tap this common set of energies creating frequencies and vibrations that both store and radiate an intuitive path toward all knowledge of all things.”

“And about all that rivalry between God and Satan…keep in mind, Lucifer was not really a finite sort of being in ancient Judaism, and no mention of him at all exists before medieval times in the New Testament.”

“The War in Heaven between God and the fallen Archangels makes it sound like there was a time in Heaven before the war, even though Heaven is depicted as having ‘No Beginning, and no End. Is there a difference between Eternity and Infinity?”

“If Satan is “God’s Prosecutor”, would not the actions of the Serpent represent entrapment? And to what end? Doesn’t God already know what choices we are going to make? It’s a little like Schrodinger’s Cat in quantum mechanics…does he really know all, or doesn’t he?”

“Charles…” intoned Ash.

“Yes?” he answered.

“Please Shut the Fuck Up” (They all chimed in unison, as they surrounded him in a giant group-hug.)

“I think we can all agree that we are all on the same page of a new book.” said Ash.

“And this book will be written in understandings, rather than words.” Mark was often quiet, but when he did speak, it was worth it  to listen.

Sleight of Hand, Sleight of mind

(THIS WILL SURELY EARN ME AT LEAST A TIMESHARE FOR WATERFRONT PROPERTY ON THE LAKE OF FIRE)

(Meanwhile, in another part of town….)

(The following entries were recorded by Mark, acting as interpreter for Frederick, as told by Raul, the Talking Cuban Tree-Toad.)

“Hello to you, my friends; welcome to the show that never  ends. We’re so glad you could attend; step inside, step inside…Consider me your tour-guide for a journey of sight, sound, and state of mind”

(Fade-in to close-up of Raul’s face, as always replete with boom-mike headset.): 

“Without going into details to be covered at a later point about how it has been accomplished, Mark and Frederick have learned to use sign language as a tool to allow more complex communications between them in a way that does not fight certain limitations of language skills and cognition that hinder both Frederick’s as well as Mark’s abilities to communicate an understanding that passes between them.)”

“What Frederick has finally convinced Mark of is that Sentience and Intellect essentially operate independently of each other. Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, and have self-awareness through emotional experiences. Some would define it additionally by adding references to tool-making (which primates already do) and manipulations of complex and abstract thought processes.”

“It is in fact Man’s presupposition of the validity of certain measurements of certain types of intelligence and language abilities which create a built-in preoccupation with being linked to any presupposed level of consciousness or awareness that now comes into question.”

”That bias is what has crippled Man’s abilities to communicate without words.”

“Mark had begun to document this in a very occult fashion using his laptop as a video camera, but he admits that a great deal of what has been presented is completely subjective and interpretive. What is most intriguing is how Mark maintains that the most complex emotional and intuitive ideas that would appear to present the greatest challenge to verbal or written communication are easily transcended telepathically.”

“If all this sounds like mouthwash for pigs, suffice it to say at this point, that what has been observed is repeatable, and can be duplicated in ways that use controls and verification to support certain hypotheses. So there, for now, OK?”

“Ladies, Gentlemen, and everyone else…consider this for your perusal:”

“All of this was only accessible by way of ‘Frog-Cam’ and infrared technology, so the picture quality is sometimes a bit shaky, or ‘jumpy’ if you will pardon the pun, but ***Spoiler Alert***: (there is a great deal of foreshadowing within these scenes.)”

(Scene opens with long shot of entire Habitat, slowly dolly and zoom into living quarters for Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick. We see and hear the sounds and sights of Malkira and Lilith joyously copulating. Frederick, meanwhile is lying alone in his bed. His eyes are closed. He is on his back, and he is slowly and deliberately masturbating with his right hand as he uses his left to hold a stolen pair of Darcy’s panties to his nose as he delicately drags the material across his face. She and Mark neglected to notice that he had stolen them when they had parked to stop and fuck when they were returning from the Sanctuary.)

Frederick tries to explain his current predicament like this: (Voice over)

 “My relationship with Darcy is complicated, to say the least. Other than my mother, Lilith, she is the only female of interest to me. She is a part of my earliest memories, and those memories are nurturant and loving, but there are none of the conflicts about sexual feelings for Darcy that I would have for Lilith. Even primates have certain social norms that are not easily violated or overlooked. As I have matured, so have my feelings for Darcy. I do not find myself especially attracted to other female chimps or bonobos, and the thought of sex with most of them feels unnatural somehow.”

“I have become aware of the fact that I am almost exclusively fixated on Darcy sexually, and I now know that she and Mark have discussed it openly and frankly. Mark and I have discussed it as well.”

“Chimps are monogamous, at least mostly, and predominately heterosexual, while Bonobos are much freer spirits, with a great deal more acceptable latitudes for behaviors amongst their tribes, but I am a not just a hybrid…I am aware of myself enough to know that there is already something within me that is different from either of my parents.”

“Even though almost all animals can communicate by non-verbal means, including telepathy, I can tell that there are some things neither Malkira nor Lilith understand. I can feel the difference when we communicate that they lack a certain level self-awareness that I do not entirely understand myself, and these differences make me feel even more isolated.”

“Coming from a heterogeneous cultural background that has socially ostracized me from contact with any peers does not help. I have no roadmap by which to guide myself, and feelings are not the kind of things that can be controlled at any rate.”

“I have no intention of challenging Mark over Darcy, and she has not expressed any sexual interests in me, but I know the most delicious sort of thrill that passes over me when I am around her. All of her scents and musks and perfumes intoxicate me wildly. Her touch makes me shiver sometimes, and I have seen her notice it more than once…and she smiles and winks at me when she becomes aware of my excitement.”

“For now, I am simply so stupid drunk on Love for her that it is enough just to be in the same room with her, and I will do anything she asks cheerfully and immediately, just to please her and be praised by her. She is my ‘Aunt’ but she is also so much more.”

“Mark is somewhere between an Uncle and an older brother to me. I cannot hide my feelings, and they both seem to understand…and for now, I have no choice but to accept that how I feel is beyond all tribal boundaries for everyone involved…I know that, but my sexuality has come to the forefront of late to the point where I am overwhelmed by desire and frustration.”

“Masturbation is my only escape. Yesterday Darcy caught me with her old panties, but it turns out she had been watching me on the video cameras for some time and already knew about the whole thing. She just came in and caught me as I was cumming. She just walked in, came over to me, and stroked my head as she took away the beloved panties, only to replace them with newer, more fragrant ones. She then simply leaned over and winked at me as she did it, smacked her lips in an audible kiss and walked away.”

“I love her.”

Who is this Child of God?

WARNING! HERESY, SACRILEGE, BLASPHEMY, SCIENCE, EVOLUTION AND A GENERALLY IRREVERENT TONE LIKELY TO OFFEND RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS

According to Wikipedia:

Anthropogenesis, meaning the process or point of becoming human, is also called hominization.

Primates have advanced cognitive abilities: some make tools and use them to acquire food and for social displays; some have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation, influence and rank; they are status conscious, manipulative and capable of deception.

They can recognize kin and conspecifics; and they can learn to use symbols and understand aspects of human language including some relational syntax and concepts of number and numerical sequence. Research in primate cognition explores problem solving, memory, social interaction, a theory of mind, and numerical, spatial, and abstract concepts.

The gorilla and chimpanzee diverged around the same time, about 4-6 million years ago, and either Sahelanthropus or Orrorin may be our last shared ancestor with them. The early bipedals eventually evolved into the australopithecines and later the genus Homo.

The earliest documented members of the genus Homo are Homo habilis which evolved around 2.3million years ago; the earliest species for which there is positive evidence of use of stone tools.

The brains of these early hominids were about the same size as that of a chimpanzee. During the next million years a process of encephalization began, and with the arrival of Homo Erectus in the fossil record, cranial capacity had doubled to 850 cm3.

It is believed that these species were the first to use fire and complex tools. According to theory, modern humans evolved in Africa possibly from Homo Heidelbergensis, Homo Rhodesiensis or Homo Antecessor and migrated out of the continent some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, replacing local populations of Homo Erectus, Homo Denisova, Homo Floresiensis and Homo Neanderthalensis.

Archaic Homo Sapiens, the forerunner of anatomically modern humans, evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. Recent DNA evidence suggests that several haplotypes of Neanderthal origin are present among all non-African populations, and Neanderthals and other hominids, such as Denisova Hominin may have contributed up to 6% of their genome to present-day humans, suggestive of a limited inter-breeding between these species.

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo Sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago. The transition to behavioral modernity with the development of symbolic culture, language, and specialized lithic technology happened around 50,000 years ago.

(Keep in mind that Sapience as well as Wisdom or Sagacity is defined as: the ability to think, and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.)

The possibility of linking humans with earlier apes by descent became clear only after 1859 with the publication of Charles Darwin‘s On the Origin of Species, in which he argued for the idea of the evolution of new species from earlier ones.

The first debates about the nature of human evolution arose between Thomas Huxley and Richard Owen. Huxley argued for human evolution from apes by illustrating many of the similarities and differences between humans and apes, and did so particularly in his 1863 book Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature.

Many of Darwin’s early supporters did not initially agree that the origin of the mental capacities and the moral sensibilities of humans could be explained by natural selection.

Darwin applied the theory of evolution and sexual selection to humans when he published The Descent of Man in 1871.

Progress in DNA sequencing, specifically mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and then Y-chromosome DNA advanced the understanding of human origins.

By comparing mitochondrial DNA using 133 types of mtDNA,  which is inherited only from the mother, geneticists have concluded that the last female common ancestor whose genetic marker is found in all modern humans, a female African progenitor dubbed ‘Mitochondrial  Eve,’ must have lived around 200,000 years ago.

Recent sequencing of Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes shows that some admixture occurred. Modern humans outside Africa have 2-4% Neanderthal alleles in their genome, and some Melanesians have an additional 4-6% of Denisovan alleles.

There was a coastal dispersal of modern humans from the Horn of Africa around 70,000 years ago. This group helped to populate Southeast Asia and Oceania, explaining the discovery of early human sites in these areas much earlier than those in the Levant.

Much of Human evolution is characterized by a number of morphological, developmental, physiological, and behavioral changes that have taken place since the split between the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees.

The human species developed a much larger brain than that of other primates – typically 1,330 cm3 in modern humans, over twice the size of that of a chimpanzee or gorilla. The pattern of encephalization started with Homo Habilis, which at approximately 600  cm3 had a brain slightly larger than that of chimpanzees, and continued with Homo Erectus (800–1,100  cm3), reaching a maximum in Neanderthals with an average size of (1,200–1,900  cm3), larger even than Homo sapiens.

The increase in volume over time has affected areas within the brain unequally – the temporal lobes, which contain centers for language processing, have increased disproportionately, as has the prefrontal cortex which has been related to complex decision-making and moderating social behavior.

The nature of interaction between early humans and these sister species has been a long standing source of controversy, the question being whether humans replaced these earlier species or whether they were in fact similar enough to interbreed, in which case these earlier populations may have contributed genetic material to modern humans.

Human DNA is approximately 98.4% identical to that of chimpanzees when comparing single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Around 50,000 BC modern human culture started to evolve more rapidly. The transition to behavioral modernity has been characterized as a Eurasian ‘Great Leap Forward’, or as the ‘Upper Paleolithic Revolution,’ because of the sudden appearance of distinctive signs of modern behavior in the archaeological record.

Several crucial questions are either raised or remain unanswered.

How is Man the Child of God if he is descended from Lower Primates unless they too are God’s Offspring?

Is not then Man the Son of Apes?…or at least a close cousin?

Are Sentience and Intelligence what make us Human?

Is that why Man chose Reason over Instinct?

Sentience is relative. What degree of sentience separates Man from Beast? Is there a cut-off point, or is it a continuum?

Is Man’s sentience the result of eating The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Was it the ‘Quantum Leap of Evolution’ in primates? ‘The ‘Great Leap Forward’, or ‘Upper Paleolithic Revolution?’

In terms of the history of the Earth, Man’s existence is ephemeral, and fragile. His cognizance is by comparison as momentary and random as a bug hitting the windshield of a moving truck.

Was Chaos all that was operant, or did Man get some outside help? (who was ‘The Serpent?’)

Why would a just and loving God begrudge, withhold, or forbid such knowledge from Man?

Without the Knowledge of Good and Evil, what was Man?

Sentient?

Blindly obedient?

Was Free Will possible in its absence?

According to the (Judeo-Christian) Bible, when he learned of Man’s transgression, God said: “They think they are as Us.”

To whom is God speaking in the plural?

Of what is God so jealous?

To what purpose was God’s Will served that Adam and Eve should be forever banished from The Garden?

Who Shall be the Child of Man?

The Seven stood or sat around the Sefirot as Charles explained the color-coding as well as the sequencing of the lights, according to the levels and pathways represented.

“Keep in mind that this is not so much an ‘object’ of worship,’ but rather a way of conceptualizing and directing your consciousness toward a higher, or more enlightened state of mind. This was not something of which the original practitioners of the Kabala were able to avail themselves, but I took few liberties in interpretation, and consulted several rabbis about the intent of the representation.”

“ I can speed up the sequencing until it looks like a continuous flow, and it can be set to accelerate based on the amount of alpha waves the brain of the designated controller produces. I am working on a mixer that will allow me to transmit the accumulated alpha signal from as many as eight subjects (It’s an eight-channel audio board), and it is possible to produce audio tones that will correspond to each of these levels and pathways.”

“Suki, Mark and I have already started to learn to harmonize each other with it. It’s really quite exhilarating. The other equipment to do it with is still just a couple of circuit boards with no chassis or case to protect them, so I didn’t bring that along just yet…we only started that part of the presentation two nights ago…”

”It was actually Mark’s concept, to make the process harmonizable…he has been a very valuable member of the team, in fact…anyone who has ever had the dubious pleasure of working with me knows I can be a bit of an autocrat, and I confess I treated him more like an assistant, but the Sefirot as you see it here today represents our combined work.”

“I can’t take all the credit for this…his concept of harmonizing and resonating it has been…well, pardon the pun…instrumental in our success.”

Charles beamed widely like a proud parent as he did one of those left-arm-only sideways hugs that overtly heterosexual men do when presented the opportunity to express bonding in a way that allowed other overtly heterosexual men to interpret in a non-sexual way.

It was not necessary in this environment, but old habits die hard. A moment of protracted silence followed, broken suddenly by Darcy.

“How does everybody else feel about allowing Frederick to take the Wisdom with us at some point?…I talked to Merle about giving him a dose in captivity…a very low threshold dose of course, and in a secure and nurturant setting that would allow Mark and I to help guide him through it with no outside interference at first. Merle has even developed a tranquilizer to administer if he starts to show signs of psychosis or violence…”

“Oh?” Quipped Charles. “I’m surprised you didn’t make some up for us as well.”

“As a matter of fact I did…even before I took the first dose. I rarely ever design a drug that does not allow for an antidote of some sort. I just assumed you knew me well enough to trust me on that…you are all family to me. I didn’t want to interject anything negative into tonight’s setting, but Darcy brought up a good point in the process.”

“I’ll bet she did…” intoned Mark.

Merle was a little unsure about whether he has sensing jealousy in Mark’s remark. He shot him a quizzical look and a slightly raised eyebrow that seemed to ask “Really? From you, Mark?”

Mark blushed slightly, and rolled his eyes, but his facial expression was one of acquiescence. He smiled a kind of smirky smile that seemed to say “Sorry…inappropriate attempt at humor…” as he raised his hands, palm up as he slightly bowed his head. No one else showed any sign of noticing the transaction.

Darcy continued “You are all aware of what we believe we have discovered in terms of telepathic communications between Mark, Frederick and myself. I think we can learn a great deal from him as well as vice-versa.”

“…and based on some things we learned about a week ago, we’re even more excited. It seems that since Man lost Instinct and Telepathy shortly after he gained sentience and began to rely exclusively on Speech, he also lost all Prehistoric accounts of his origin, unlike the great apes who have been able to access and share the story of their development and dispersal as well as the story of how Man eventually received ‘The Sacrament’ that gave them his ‘humanity’…the Story of the Ascension of Man.”

“The longer we have been able to communicate with Frederick, the less we need to rely on sign language to express abstract thoughts, ideas, and especially feelings.”

Mark interjected “We both believe that Frederick may have at least as much to teach us as we do him.”

They agreed to continue to discuss it further, but were interrupted by the sudden opening of the front door, which they believed to be locked. It swung open widely, but gently, and Sobe and Sharma were clinging tenaciously to it.

The Guests were starting to arrive, and the Seven were becoming prepared to receive these ancient and venerated ones.

This Thing called Love

Suki was the first of the Seven to get naked, having begun a very subtle striptease almost the moment she walked through the door of the Sanctuary, as was her usual and customary modus whenever possible.

Suki was usually the least vocal of the group, the most labile, and the first to action, be it play or work. She was the daughter of a Yugoslavian engineer and his Japanese wife, an archeologist. She spoke both languages fluently, but English was definitely her third tongue.

Because of the Asian influence, she frequently eschewed pronouns and most forms of the verb ‘to be’, but somehow her father’s influence tended to promote the use of engendered pronouns, although usually in inappropriate places and questionable choice of gender, resulting in phrases like “…you(r) pussy…he (is) very handsome…no?”

Her economy of words was balanced by her insightfulness, and she had a very abrupt way of embracing a ‘pure child’ state among her closest friends, who were many. She was also the first to learn the ‘Bandaloop Dance’ from Darcy.

She was of average stature, well-developed, lean and muscular, and had trained in gymnastics through college. She also had the most beautiful jade-green epicanthic eyes. Among Asian women, this is only known to happen less than once in a million births, and is supposed to foretell of great fortune and good luck.

Her hair, though as black and glassy as obsidian had a very slight wave to it, and in the sunlight, showed chestnut highlights and dark red undertones.

Adages decrying East meeting West aside, apparently Eastern Europe paired nicely with the Far East. She had one brother who was a violinist, and she was a nurse practitioner. Her father came from a family of Eastern European warlocks, and her mother was a Japanese witch, Tsukimono-suji and she liked to  refer to herself as ‘Nāsu Witchi’ (‘nurse witch’).

She was often a catalyst for such occurrences; she showed no signs of modesty whatsoever, and seemed most comfortable in the nude or, as she said “‘nee-eck-kidt’. (like “Niet” in Russian).

The rest of the group was already beginning to disrobe during the various discussions and continued as the visions began to arrive silently, moving around the Seven like they were an art exhibit.

The experience was progressing nicely, as all of the members of the group had experimented with psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs previously, and were quite comfortable with both the subtlety and intensity of the onset of effects.

The most remarkable fact was that they were all experiencing the same visions simultaneously. Usually group drug experiences are nonetheless solitary and personal as regards the visions the members may or may not experience. From the onset, it was proving to be of One Mind.

Both Suki and Kali helped encourage Darcy to feel comfortable in these surroundings. Darcy was not especially modest or shy, and had been to more than one swingers’ party, but this was fairly new ground for her nonetheless since these were all colleagues and friends gathered in a most unusual sort of experimental spiritual pursuit.

Darcy jokingly said her drugs of choice in the past were mostly limited to ‘weed, whites, and wine’ which she sang like Willie Nelson (from the song Willin’”) as she said it, but in fact, she’d had her share of whiskey and cocaine before rehab, college, and graduate school. She had made a quantum leap from her tidewater Virginia family of commercial fishermen and their wives, but she never lost touch with her roots, or her ‘country pride.’

The women were open, tactile and playfully inquisitive in their nakedness with each other. The men were somewhat characteristically slightly aloof and impersonal initially with each other. It always seemed they took the longest to loosen up and warm up to the experience.

Despite the fact that this was by no means some kind of swingers’ party, they all understood that they seemed to have the best results with spiritual visitors when sex was afoot. They all had noticed it on various levels in their own homes either straight, or perhaps under the influence of cannabis and/or moderate amounts of alcohol.

From time to time, they were fond of playfully experimenting with enticing spirit visitations during their lovemaking. The phenomenon was such a strong influence upon them all that it was instrumental in formulating the name ‘The Home for Wayward Souls’ in the first place.

We are talking about a multi-disciplinary group of educated, worldly, highly sexed aficionados of the Occult. The idea of a single-phased approach to their pursuits was viewed as arcane and narrow.

They each had dabbled in most of the known paths enough to appreciate the common threads without embracing the jingoism and solipsism of any particular group. It appeared that what was true for one was usually similarly true for another, given the cultural biases each of them interjected.

To them, spiritualism and spirituality provided inspiration that far transcended any one religion. What they sought was beyond religion.

Their main premise was that spirits do exist outside as well as inside the Living. It was their A Priori assumption. Everything else was yet to be decided on a case-by-case basis at the time of the experience.

And although they individually and collectively used some drugs as a chef would use condiments, it was only a means to an end as a source of insight and inspiration, and held little or no interest in and of themselves.

…And remember, all of this is being done under the auspices of a Registered Pharmacist who is also a botanist and a Shaman, who is assisted by an ordained cleric, a nurse practitioner, several witches, a necromancer/jack of all things worldly, and two clinical researchers.

What they sought was beyond drugs, beyond sex, beyond religion, beyond Reason, and most of all, beyond themselves, their egos, their possessions, and their collective knowledge.

To belong to something larger than themselves, united in their pursuit of the Cunning Wisdom of Experience that would lead them to Rapture, Enlightenment, Peace, Understanding, Attainment, Connection and Oneness.

Pure Love.

The Square Circle

As the guests continued to drift in to Ash and Kali’s home in silence, Merle began to address the other six about the theory of what they are trying to accomplish, how it relates to Aboriginal Medicine and the significance of the lines neatly laid out on the polished wooden floor in tape, like marks to cue actors on a stage.

First, the outside perimeter is in the shape of a square, with the four corners matching the cardinal points of the compass. Merle is the North. Darcy is the South. Suki is the East. Charles is the West.

Additionally, a circle is centered within the square. Its outer edges touch the sides of the circle. This is the Universal Circle, to be occupied by Ash and Kali. Man and Woman. Yin and Yang. Proton and Neutron.

The combined shapes superimposed upon each other are often called The Square Circle, meant to represent a boxing ring to sportsmen, but for tonight’s purposes it would help envision the balances and multiplications of power and the ways of Majic.

Each of the four cardinal points faced each other inwardly to the circle. This represents the Medicine Wheel. Behind each of them is a large mirror on a floor stand, facing another mirror on the opposite corner creating a feedback of cascading images within the images allowing each member to see both forwards and backwards at the same time reflecting smaller and smaller images into each other.

Ash and Kali are free to move within the circle and are often back to back, leaving Mark alone outside the boundaries.

For several minutes they stand naked before each other.

Merle looks at Darcy, whose attentions seem divided between Mark and him. Mark looks at Darcy, sees the longing in her eyes for Merle, and can only stare back at Darcy. Kali and Ash watch everyone, including Charles and Suki, who seemed to be absorbed in assessing the complex dynamic of the group, exchanging knowing looks.

Finally, Merle speaks.

“Mark, we know both what you feel as well as what we already know between us. Your feelings for Darcy are new and the Crush of Love, that breathtaking feeling of falling without impact has infatuated the very best of every waking moment in your Here and Now. It is a beautiful and wondrous thing that inspires and empowers you.”

“The angst you feel right now is the conflict of acknowledging not only Darcy’s, but also your own perverse curiosity, as well as her desire to share her darkest secrets with you, to face your fears together. I have loved you like a brother for years now, and there is much we have shared together, including our mutual love for Kali. Through all of this, there has been no intrigue or subterfuge, only the sharing of truths, of wisdom, and power.”

“Emotion is power. Power attracts more power. Our pursuit of the Wisdom and Knowledge of the Ancient Ones requires tremendous power, and as the Sacred Fire within the Universal Circle, your energies can help us summons up and draw down their ideas, energies and assistance. Your proximity to Ash and Kali will help balance and channel you.”

“The exhilaration that Darcy, you and I will exchange provides us with an opportunity to surpass the commonplace, break down the barriers and limitations that weaken us only by default, by our acquiescence to the conventions of a captive society kept in place by the tyranny of fear, guilt, shame, sin superstition, and self-doubt. Please take your place in the center of the Universal Circle as the Sacred Fire.”

Mark was visibly intrigued by Merle’s words. As they watched, his face changed as he processed them for meaning. Looks of relief, amusement, recognition, and acknowledgement washed over his countenance like waves swelling over jagged rocks.

It was good to know that he held a place, an important and vital place in their mutual quest. It takes a very special kind of courage to embrace jealousy, insecurity, fear, and envy head-on and view it as a challenge for growth and personal development, rather than some dreaded obstacle to your uninterrupted dreams of unearned bliss. Everything has a price. 

Easy, singular puppy love is fragile and vulnerable to the inevitable challenges that in and of themselves can ward off entropy and boredom, and keep love fresh, alive and vital.

Every convention of civilization and societal norm is subject to healthy challenge; to be cracked open like a prized nut to learn what precious kernel of enlightenment can be extracted from its stony armor.

Merle continued. “Since early times, the South comes up to the North to bring sunshine and warmth to the cold North, but it cannot stay or else the North would become too warm. Because of this, we have seasons for all things. There is permanence in the cycles of impermanence, which give us balance according to each season.”

The activity and intensity of the visions that swirled, flashed, drifted and emerged was increasing since the group began to form the circle. Numerous points of light begin to fly into the circle, bouncing off the mirrors as a glow began to envelop the group like St. Elmo’s fire, while its eerie electric-blue luminance bathes everything it touches.

Soon they will be at the peak for the serum levels of the Knowledge.

Majic is afoot.

“Boop-Oopa-Doop! What’s up, Toots?”

As Betty flew in the front door, conventional reality flew out the bathroom window.

The Quickening

“Betty!” They all shouted in unison to acknowledge the arrival of the now legendary giant Macaw whose comings and goings as well as the portent of her words were well-known to everyone in the group.

“Boop-Oopa-Doop!…at your service fellow travelers…”

Although Betty had landed on top of the Sefirot, she bowed deeply, bending down on one knee and extending her wing, sweeping broadly from left to right as she bowed her head while she surveyed the room, seeming to make direct eye contact with everyone in the room simultaneously.

“Well, I for one am really looking forward to your show…you do realize that is why so many of the Ancient Ones are here, don’t you?…Don’t bother answering, by the way…it’s just a rhetorical question…hahaha.”

“…If Ash hasn’t already gotten you all up to speed on this, I think this would be a good time, don’t you, Ash?…don’t answer just yet…another rhetorical…hahaha.”

“…It looks like you kids have been doing your homework, but since this is really what you call mixed media, I get it that you’re improvising this as you go…so just try to ask yourself… ‘Now that I’ve got everybody’s attention…what do I want, and how do I help make sure I keep them coming back?’…???”

“…OK, now you can answer among yourselves…” Betty intoned, as she gestured with her wings.

Ash was the first to speak. “I guess I’m the designated showman, hopefully for good reason…I think we already get Betty’s point…Give ‘em a good fucking show…we’ve all had varying degrees of success with the process of attracting Energy, Majic, and Power…and I should think these Cunning and Wise Ones could be pretty jaded, but Betty does bring up another good point…What do we want? What is our goal…our purpose? Now that we’re all here…so what?”

“You mean other than being the only church in town…maybe any town, which embraces Sex, and Drugs, and Rock and Roll?” Charles had a way with words like a cleaver has with meat and bone.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself, Toots…Boop-Oopa-Doop!”

Merle sighed before taking a deep breath and spoke in a voice that sounded like he was playing a baritone sax. “I want Enlightenment and Understanding of the Ways of Power and Majic. I want to understand the nature of Life as well as Death and Rebirth…in my heart, so I can use it for good purpose, to help people.”

“What he said…to learn to help myself, so I can help others…” Darcy chimed in, then grew self-conscious, averting her eyes downward.

“To do what?” asked Betty.

“(To) seek communion with (all ) others, so (that) we (they) (may) see through their(ours) eyes.” was Suki’s answer.

“To what purpose, might I inquire?” Betty quizzed.

“In order to understand others, we first must understand ourselves, yet without connection, we cannot see our oneness with everything…and besides, what’s wrong with curiosity for its own sake?” Charles didn’t mean to sound defensive, so he softened his tone.

“…To be aware of such an immense universe without contacting any other life, or other energies causes us to feel isolated and alone, even singular…ephemeral…lonely.” Charles realized he sounded vague and unfocused, and shrugged his shoulders slightly.

“Hahaha…You know I could fuck with you guys all night just to watch you squirm, but I will tell you the reason I asked those kinds of questions is because I want you to start to grasp that what you seek cannot be spoken in words…but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn it….” 

Betty’s words trailed off, then she suddenly said…”But hey, who wants to have some fun first?”

“I think that one of the reasons we share mutual self-interests with the Ancient Ones is that we can provide the vehicles…our bodies, our spirits, and still have plenty of room left over for a hitch-hiker or two, providing everyone is on the same page.” Ash volunteered, as he continued.

“The Ancient Ones are more than just ghosts, but no matter how much power they have, there are times when they desire to inhabit a physical form. I don’t have any idea why, but it seems to be a common theme throughout history. I want to know what that is.” Ash was beginning to see the connection and the purpose of Betty’s questions.

“Don’t give your brain a hernia trying to figure it out, Toots…’cause it won’t happen by thinking…not even the smartest person in the world can figure out what you need to know…that drug is a great first step, but you gotta learn to communicate in a language that has no words. You already have a great teacher within your sphere of influence, but he can’t help you until you give him the one thing he needs in order to help you.”

“And what is that?” asked Ash.

“Sentience. The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. A quantum leap of consciousness.”

“Who?”

“You will recognize him when you are ready to accept him. He will become the Child of Man, and the father of a new race of sentients, in much the same way that Man received his sentience…not from God, but also not from Satan, by the way…that will be another story for another time, so don’t worry, you will know when you know what you need to know….”

“So…what’s next?” Merle quizzed Betty.

“Time to take your places…let the festivities begin…we don’t want to let our guests get restless, or bored. You’re on the right track, and they are willing to give you a few pointers, but don’t expect them to speak…if you touch the right resonances, they may take turns jumping inside you, so that you can allow them the chance to act out through you.”

“After that, they may leave a few traces behind, almost like a smell, or a taste…an awareness…a feeling of recognition without connection to any specifics…and of course, the quickening…just like a mother feels when she first becomes aware of the animation of the life growing within her. You will become inseminated with their spiritual seed…the seminal essence of existence itself.”

“When you receive it, you will notice that it was the most obvious quotient of everything around you, so prevalent that you’ve overlooked it for your entire life since you took your first breath, even though you knew it all along. Trust me, when your time comes, you will recognize it like your one true face.”

“Now for starters, how about if the North takes two paces south as the South comes north to face the North? Now Darcy, turn around so you and Merle are both facing south toward the mirror that stood behind you.”

“And the East goes to the West as the West takes two steps east. Now Suki, turn around to face the east and notice the reflections in both directions feeding back and forth between them ”

“Ash, Kali, and Mark, please face each other but stand apart far enough to not block the view of the North, South, East and West as they see themselves, as well as each other, both front and back simultaneously in the mirrors, as you rotate along the margins of the Universal Circle.”

“Now all of you try to send the images you see to each other as you receive their images. This will help you to understand three hundred sixty degree vision, both separately, as well as collectively as a common awareness.”

“As you do this, try not to blink your eyes or shift your gaze, in fact, do not move your eyes at all…learn to be able to focus your attention without moving them at all…like candle flame meditation, so be prepared…for the way the images will change to form new images.”

“…but don’t worry about getting lost, or not being able to find your way back…you’re going into this together, and you’ll find  your way back together, even if you think you’re separated, because you’re always just right here where you are.”

“Be open to whatever moves you, be it thought, or impulse, image, or ideation. Let it well up within you to give you direction, inspiration, and energy.”

“Trust your Nature to attract the energies and ideas that will inspire you to fulfill your destiny, then allow their energies to act out through your bodies…I probably don’t need to mention this, but do keep in mind that social, societal, or religious norms have no bearing to the Cunning and Wise Ones.”

“If you feel the impulse or urge to do or experience something that you might have even been disinclined to do before, it is because you’ve picked up a rider, like a freight train might attract hobos…these hitch-hikers don’t need you to stop, or even slow down, because you don’t pick them, they pick you, although they tend to do it because of something they see or perceive in you that resonates within both of you.”

“Be prepared for the unexpected…and by the way, don’t worry…Sobe and Sharma are legendary in their expertise as Ushers, even bouncers, if needed. I hope you have realized by now that almost nothing is quite what it seems to be.”

“Now before you go and get completely dependent upon me to explain it all to you, which will just ruin it, I will beg your leave and wish you well. Boop-Oopa-Doop…Betty has left the building.”

“See ya in the funny papers, Toots!” said Kali.

Betty turned and called out to them. “Oh yeah, and don’t forget to fuck like there’s no tomorrow…because there isn’t…remember, kids…tomorrow never cums…hahaha! Boop-Oopa-Doop!”

With that, Betty made a gesture that pantomimed someone who had fingers snapping them, and she disappeared.

Imagine standing on the field in the middle of Sun Life Stadium during the Super Bowl (it doesn’t matter which one)…they say that the sound of the crowd cheering is so loud that it is almost impossible for even the center to hear the signals from the quarterback. This is the sound that fills their ears, even as they realize they can still hear their own breathing and heartbeat.

“Boop-Oopa-Doop Indeed!.”

All Together Now

Merle began to speak in soft, low tones. The sheer size of his chest resonated the bass in his voice in a way no smaller man could. The Apache tend to speak in a voice that reverberates further back in the mouth and throat, which further accentuated the deep sound of his voice.

“One of the other effects of The Knowledge is that for the twelve hours or so that you are under its effects your brain restores and renews all the conduction pathways to every experience you’ve ever known. It has to do with a center in the brain that functions like the table of contents in any computer database.”

“Every experience, and every thought you’ve ever had stays in your brain intact. The reason people forget most of these experiences is because they do not get reinforced by repetition…not the actual data, but the access to it, If you corrupt the table of contents of a computer’s data, it becomes inaccessible unless you can restore the table of contents.”

“People say Art imitates Life; but your brain is not like a computer…that is just backwards. The reason computers imitate the brain is due to the way our brains work, so we just naturally reflect the same structure in our machines.”

“One of the results of this is that you will learn to develop recall of all your present life experiences, and possibly eventually even previous life experiences. The goal is to recognize what it is that represents the essential enigma of your nature. Once you become aware of whatever built-in sabotage is present in your program, you can learn to balance the contradictory influences in a way that unifies and focuses your efforts and connects you to all life itself.”

“To accomplish this, I spliced in a molecule of a drug that is supposed to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It hasn’t even made it to the level of investigational study. So far, it turns out to surpass any expectations that were anticipated. If the Department of Defense gets wind of it, no one but military personnel will ever get access to it. I have already produced enough of the hybrid drug for our use for about three hundred years. What the DOD does with it will not have to be our concern, at least for now.

“In the meantime, our drug will connect you with the ability to perceive energy, ideas, and focused data that was not visible to you before. It has something to do with scan rates of perception, for lack of a better analogy.”

”On the Quantum level, Velocity influences Mass sufficiently to allow two real, solid objects to occupy the same space at the same time, like pouring sugar into a beaker filled with rocks, and then pouring water into the glass to occupy the remaining space, and then dissolving oxygen into the water. Different densities…you can anticipate that you’re going to see a lot of startling or unusual images and visionary revelations.”

“If you are already familiar with LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Psilocybin, MDMA, Yopo, Ayahuasca, El Changa, or similar psychoactive drugs, the whole experience will be much easier to process.”

“My own previous experiences had led me to believe that those visions were more like analogies…an insight, but not a true reality…The Knowledge has caused me to rethink those assumptions.”

“I believe that The Knowledge will allow us to actually develop a new level of sentience…to Cross Over. I’ve had the experience Betty referred to as ‘hitchhiking’…having a disembodied spirit jump into my physical body.”

”Until I understood the process, I was as terrified as I was fascinated by the experience, and the traces they leave behind are strangely beautiful in a way I cannot find words to describe. The understanding they impart is priceless. You will know what I mean soon.”

The presence of the spirits was becoming more apparent and tangible by the minute. Images of familiar and unfamiliar entities drifted into each of their fields of view, and somehow they all believed they were seeing the same images in unison, a phenomenon that almost never has been reported in experimental drug use, but has been documented in certain religious experiences. Later conversations between the members affirmed their beliefs of the congruencies of their simultaneous group perceptions.

The group stood naked in their original positions, one mirror behind, one in front with Merle and Charles facing East and South respectively and Suki was also facing East just in front of Charles, so close she can feel his erect cock pressing between the mounds of her buttocks. Darcy stood in front of Merle, also facing South. She felt Merle’s firm member dangling from just above the small of her back to at least the bottom of her buttocks.

She wondered to herself if his cock ever stood up, or even out at all. Most of the ‘big guys’ she knew in the past could get quite hard without ever achieving those two o’clock, almost straight up to their own belly erections. In this case, she hoped not, since range of motion would allow for more imaginative positioning, and he had such a distinctive upwards curve that she already knew that it would hit all the right spots,

Ash was the next to speak. “Try to connect with your polar opposite on the physical plane in whatever fashion appeals to you. Fix your stare onto the pupils of your partner via their reflection in the mirror facing you. Trust your instincts that your partner will accept the connection as you feel the energy welling up and flowing back and forth between you in an exchange like waves rolling between you.”

With that, Darcy leaned slowly forward until she was bent over far enough to touch the floor in front of her, never shifting her gaze as she continued to stare into the reflection of Merle’s pupils in the mirror.She slowly smiled enigmatically as Merle moved just enough to place his hands on both her hips.

After a few minutes, she was aware they were now touching in three places…as his member continued to engorge and stiffen, she could feel it raise enough to press against her mons, and she could feel its pulsations.

Their heights matched very well for this kind of contact, and it turned her on incredibly because it was so rare that she found men that could reach her without standing on something. She was almost a half foot taller than Mark, and several inches taller than Hank, as well as most of the men she had dated.

She had been anticipating this moment with Merle since the first time they had met on the grounds outside the Sanctuary. She was so wet that the tip of Merle’s penis easily parted her labia as the foreskin began to slide backwards on the shaft as it welled up before turning back onto itself.

Just the girth of the head of it was starting to stretch her open so far that she felt more vulnerable than she could ever remember, Just as she was beginning to wonder if she could even fit him inside without suffering serious pain and possibly permanent trauma suddenly Merle just held himself there, not pushing any farther, just hovering.

Darcy began to shift her weight just enough to produce an almost imperceptible undulation of her hips, just slightly grinding herself against the end of his shaft. As much as she wanted to feel herself skewered upon his flesh, there was a delicious pleasure just hanging in midair, aware of each other in the most intimate way, connected both by flesh and each other’s gaze.

Charles and Suki had followed their lead, but being much more accustomed to each other sexually they were already fully engaged and practicing a Tantric technique to maintain arousal without visible motion or perceptible thrusting.

They had been swingers long before they came to embrace the Home for Wayward Souls, and they brought their own blend of sexuality to their encounters with other members of the group.

The sound system in Ash and Kali’s home was almost beyond imagination. Charles had installed it with Lothar’s help utilizing over ten thousand watts of power that allowed you to listen to music anywhere in the house.

Free standing enclosures and built-in speakers filled the house with a mix of ambiences and resonant frequencies and harmonies that floated and flowed together in the most natural and uplifting way.

Also Charles and Mark had worked on a mix of sounds designed to not call attention to themselves and still provide a mood and focus for their experience together. It was designed to not drown out or interfere with whatever else there was to be heard.

The visible presence of the spirits did not seem especially disarming in the setting they had provided, and occasionally they felt a touch, a caress, or a fondling as the strangely illuminated images floated and zipped around them. The sensation was electrifying.

As preoccupied as Mark was with Darcy and Merle’s coupling, Kali managed to arouse and distract Mark in a way few other women ever could. Ash and Kali had anticipated this, and mutually agreed it would allow Ash to focus on directing and channeling everyone.

As Mark and Kali stood facing each other, caressing and staring into each other’s eyes, a luminous form began to materialize in the center of the circle. It swirled and pulsated before them, but remained enigmatic and slightly unfocused, just teasingly familiar enough to be vaguely recognizable, but not quite identifiable.

The spirits were gathering around the group as they watched for the arrival of the mysterious image.

Crossing the Abyss

Darcy already knew she was the wild card in the hand the group had been dealt…not the weakest link, just the one least in tune with the methods of the rest. She had only begun meditation shortly after she met Mark, and Polyamory was a bit like learning a foreign language like French, Spanish…or even Yiddish.

Depending on your locale, you probably have heard or even used words that were cognates of the tongue, so it’s not completely unfamiliar, but admittedly, it takes a lot of practice to reach the point where you naturally think with the mindset of one of its citizen-users.

And so it was that, in the midst of trying to stay attuned to the occurrences all around her, she couldn’t help noticing that Merle’s already breathtakingly generous portion of viande was getting even more firm and erect in the midst of trying to recognize or understand the apparition that was trying to materialize in front of them.

“It’s a little like trying to recite the words to the National Anthem while you’re getting your cooter spit-shined.”, she thought.

As she continued to stare into Merle’s eyes through the mirror image, she suddenly heard his voice inside her head, speaking to her softly although his mouth did not move and his expression never visibly changed.

“Relax…It’s not really as big as you think it is…don’t let your mind tell your body what it can or cannot do. I’m in no hurry, are you? We have all the time in the world. Think of this as a horseback ride to a desert oasis.”

“Yeah, except this time the horse is riding me…” she mused.

At that moment, Merle showed the slightest flicker of a smile…had he heard her?

“Yes.” She heard inside her head.

She felt her pelvic floor relax quite noticeably in the process.

“OOOOOOOOhhhhUmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!” she chanted inside her head in a silly moment of parody that actually dislodged a fragment of clarity for her, as she started into one of what she called an ‘Oh Fuck! Moment…’ and she knew she was only getting started.

It was then she heard Merle’s belly-laugh in her head.

“I can help…” suddenly every speaker in the house was speaking to the group in a chorale whisper. “I can provide him with a voice, though you can’t recognize it, even though you know him well.”

Every speaker, every transducer had a distinct, separate voice; different timbre, different pitch, even different accent or regional dialect. There was the sound of an audible sigh, and if it is possible to hear a smile (as every sentient telemarketer will insist, you can), they did.

“I thought that might get your attention…it’s not the first time I’ve tried, but this was the first time you heard. Now before you all start shouting questions at me, try to understand that I can hear your thoughts just as well as you all can hear each other right now…in each other’s heads, of course. I think Merle and Darcy are starting to get the knack of it already.”

“I also thought I might caution you that it takes some control to not transmit every thought that comes into your head, or it will suddenly sound like a Tourette’s convention in here.”

“The trick is to think as if you are speaking, but don’t move your mouth or use your vocal cords. It’s probably best to start with the one with whom you’re paired. Ash can then attempt to speak to each of you separately, then as a group, and as you begin to hear and answer him, you can start to communicate among yourselves.”

“You don’t need to so much try to read each other’s minds as to simply listen to what you hear…and really…try to control your enthusiasm enough to remember your manners and not all start talking over each other.”

“Who are you?” They all shouted, then stopped to try to just think the question.

“Good. You guys are learning quickly…My name is Miyuki, but they call me Nakamichi.”

“The stereo?” Thought/asked Ash. “…My stereo?”

“Think of me as the spirit that resides inside your stereo….it’s easier that way…trust me, you’ll understand soon enough.”

“I have given voice to your most beloved music of your favorite composers and performers…and I can provide a voice for The Child of Man.”

“Who is this Child of Man?” asked Ash. Though his lips did not move, everyone heard him in his loud, clear voice. They were picking up the technique very quickly.

Miyuki answered “He is one who is known to all of you, but you have not yet seen his true face…his true nature. He can unite you with your ancestors and your primal origins…all the way back to when you mistakenly traded your Instinct for Reason after you gained the Knowledge of the Difference between Good and Evil when you ate from the Tree of Life.”

“…you do know that the story is entirely symbolic, don’t you? I promise I will tell you the real story soon, if….”

“If what? Asked Darcy through her mind, knowing the rest of them would also hear her question as clearly as they all heard Miyuki.

“If He doesn’t tell you first…it was one of his favorite bedtime stories that his mother used to tell him when he was a baby. But more importantly, he can take you where you want to go and get you back again.”

“What do you mean?” inquired Charles.

“He can teach you how to Cross the Abyss.”

“What Abyss?” Suki wanted to try her new voice as well.

“The gulf between the physical and spirit worlds, not to mention what your believe to be inanimate. The first step is to bridge the gap between the human and animal worlds. Most of them can go back and forth into and out of the spirit worlds as easily as crossing the street.”

”The main problem that they have with humans has been that most of you are completely unable to communicate without words. The power you imagined to lie in words has so preoccupied you that you have lost your spirit voice.”

“Now that you can speak through your minds again, you are ready for him, and he has so much to teach you, He will be your spirit guide. He will teach you how to Cross the Abyss.”

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Darcy, who was the first to recognize the image that was taking shape before them.

It was Frederick. He was doing Darcy’s Bandaloop Dance. He loved to do it whenever he felt joy, and learned it very shortly after Darcy had come to care for him.

Soon the rest of the group recognized him as well.

He was wearing Darcy’s panties over his head, clearly enthralled by the feel of the delicate lace and Darcy’s own personal musk.

TaDa!

WARNING! EXTREME SEXUAL CONTENT OF A VERY EXPLICIT AND UNCENSORED NATURE. ADULTS ONLY! REFERENCES TO DRUGS AND PAGAN SEXUAL PRACTICES. NOT FOR CHILDREN. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT VIEWING THIS AT WORK (UNLESS YOU WORK IN THE SEX INDUSTRY). NOT INTENDED FOR ANYONE UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE, OR THE MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY INFIRM, UNLESS YOUR DOCTOR HAS STATED THAT YOUR HEART IS HEALTHY ENOUGH FOR EXTREMELY ABERRANT SEX…THERE! I SAID IT…(AS IF THAT IS LIKELY TO STOP ANONE EXCEPT TRUE PRUDES AND THE GENERALLY FEARFUL)…

Given the preceding events, it is nonetheless at least interesting to ponder why a naked woman who is in the midst of getting publicly fucked by a sorcerer in front six other naked seekers of enlightenment, several of whom are also similarly engaged, would suddenly feel embarrassment, just because it was her panties that her charge was sniffing and fondling in the vision that had been conjured….

This was about as open-minded an audience as you will ever find anywhere, but there is a chasm wider than the Olduvai Gorge that separates human and all other animal forms of sexuality.

Keep in mind, all seven have taken a psychoactive drug so powerful that it has enabled them to have already experienced simultaneous visions and telepathic powers of communication…

(“How did Frederick get the panties in the first place…did Darcy give them to him…how else?”) Suki blurted (in her mind, which just happened to be in the transmit mode).

(“I’m sure there is a logical explanation…I hope…Is there one?”) questioned Charles.

(“I understand that it is only natural that Frederick is now of an age where his sexuality has come to the forefront…”) mused Ash.

(“I’m just glad it wasn’t one of mine.”) Merle breathed a sigh of relief.

(“What?!?!?) (Darcy had been heretofore unaware of Merle’s cross-dressing proclivities.)

(“Oh shit!”) as Mark realized not only the incident where the panties were lost, but also how lucky they were that the lost undergarment had not been left in the company-owned Land Cruiser.

All in an instant.

Just as quickly, the entire group relived that afternoon with Mark and Darcy as they pieced together the details of how all this took place, right up to the point where Darcy recalled having replaced the original pair, which she now had unwittingly revealed to the rest of the group as well…including Mark, who had been previously unaware.

(“Well…they were dirty and old…OK…I was a little flattered in a rather perverse way…he obviously likes my…pheromones…that’s a vital factor in animal behaviors…I thought he would appreciate something…fresher…but with a replenished scent…”)

(“Lately, between the signing lessons and the unofficial telepathy exercises, we have become increasingly aware of Frederick’s crush on Darcy…it was inevitable. He’s reached that age, and he has no mate, like the other primates at the Habitat do…it’s strange and sad.”) Mark was quick to point out.

(“This is the point where all the previous Chimp experiments eventually hit a brick wall of sexual frustrations so severe that the subjects started attacking their trainers…we can’t afford to lose him that way…he’s the only one of his kind…he calls himself a Bonanzee, you know…) Darcy’s thoughts trailed off into silence.

As the group engaged themselves (as well as each other) in thought and speculation about how to get Frederick laid, it was impossible to ignore the fact that they were beginning to experience a sexual frenzy that some, less broad-minded, un-drugged individuals might find bizarre, given the juxtaposition of stimuli.

For some time now, Merle had been cautiously insistent in the pressure he applied to the stroking movements of his now rigid cock; a little further in and out each time, and with increasing tempo, moving little more than his hips in the process, as he grasped Darcy’s hips firmly.

By the point that he was able to finally squeeze first, the enormous corona, and then the thickened shaft where the foreskin slid back and piled up as it folded back upon itself, Darcy was beginning to experience an even further altered state that can only be described by such words as “Unghhh!…Mmmm!…Aaaaahhhhh! OOOOhhhh!, OOOOhhhh!, OOOhhhh!, (and my own personal favorite) “…OOOOOOOOhhhhhhhh FFFFFFuck!!!”

Darcy had never experienced childbirth, but previous descriptions by other more experienced women brought to mind the expression ‘Ring of Fire’ as she felt the most exquisite, searing expansive sensation that felt like her throbbing Love Canal was being dredged to permit the Titanic clear passage.

Despite her tall stature, she was rather thin and quite petite. Although she had experienced the pleasures that only an oversized cock or dildo can induce on several previous occasions, her outer labia were small, although the inner folds tended to protrude past the outer margins, hinting at what she called her ‘Magic Hat’ that seemed capable of swallowing up objects larger than itself.

Tonight however, she felt as if Merle was trying to park a semi inside a phone booth, as the image of the Tardis leapt into her mind.

She was sopping wet by the time Merle began to thrust more forcefully and deeply as he plowed the furrow between her legs until there was no more room inside at all. As he pistoned his thick shaft in and out, small amounts of air forced themselves out of her pussy in a wet, audible squoosh with each stroke.

Rati had once again materialized in her outfit, sans panties, doing handsprings around the Square Circle and finishing by going through it to do a full split, covering Ash’s face under her sopping snatch.

Ash was on his back, and Kali was astride his hips, planted firmly on his gorgeous dong as Mark violated her ass in frenzied abandon as she joyously gyrated to meet the thrusts of both her lovers like some kind of synchronized clockwork of flesh.

Charles and Suki were almost indistinguishable from the gang of spirits that had materialized around them as they found themselves levitated, and slowly rotating and tumbling in air as every orifice and appendage was either filled or impaled upon every imaginable combination of couplings.

The walls of the living room had been transformed into a series of steps that resembled a Mayan temple on all sides, with the blackest, most star-filled sky above them, at least sixty feet above the floor. The steps were being used by an assembled multitude of beings, some recognizable, and others unfathomable, all chanting the same thing.

From time to time, an enormous eyeball, or part of a face would obliterate the sky as if some giant was peering into one of those crystal snow-scenes you see on tables during the holidays as the chanting continued. It was not one word, but it was one word, the same word, shouted in the language of each of the members of the audience, some of whom were also copulating with each other in the stands.

Inside their collective heads, the roar of the crowd was deafening, although they could also clearly hear each other’s breathing and the squishing, squooshing and slapping sounds of sex. They were panting like dogs; grunting like elk in rut, drooling and slobbering, sometimes speaking in the unknown tongues of their audience.

Sweat dripped profusely as if they were melting from the sheer heat of their sex, as the floor and walls disappeared and the earth opened up to swallow everything around them, as they plummeted toward what seemed to be the center of the earth.

As they came together, they had the sensation of being ejected from an erupting volcano of semen, sweat, and the saline gumbo of co-mingled fluids of copulation, as if being ejaculated from some monumental phallus, as they lost all consciousness.

They later attested to the fact that at that precise moment, they all believed they had experienced their individual and collective deaths en masse…

And it was Good…like the way it says in Genesis, at the end of each day of the creation.

The Ballad of Charles and Suki

No more than a handful of people claimed to know much of anything about Charles and Suki. There were several good reasons for that. They tended to be the wildest, and most generally bizarre, as well as the most private couple associated with either the Sanctuary, or The Home for Wayward Souls.

They came to South Florida about eight years ago, but other details were pretty sketchy. No one was especially sure of how old they were, or what they did before they came into the congregation.

Charles’ parents were from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia originally, but came to the United States in the Nineteen Sixties after defecting from the Soviet Union and Communism. In the USSR, Charles’ father was officially recognized as one of the top paranormal researchers in the employ of the KGB…officially…but Charles had also alluded to the fact that Vladimir Vliynczykovitch was also reputedly the most powerful warlock in all of Europe.

Charles’ mother did cutting-edge research in the early development of lasers for the government.

When they came to the US, they changed their family name to Vincent, and tried to assimilate into the culture and generally maintain a low profile. Of course, Vladimir was immediately debriefed and inducted into a laboratory facility that unofficially did research for the CIA. Charles’ mother, Svetlana retired from research to bring lasers and holography to the world of art, and became quite self-sufficient doing so.

Their home was filled with people from the world of the Paranormal, Espionage and Intelligence as well as every manner of Artist. The central theme of Eastern European Witchcraft was also always present, (if you knew what you were hearing and understood its true meaning) like an underground stream running through their home.

Suki’s father, Omar was a Yugoslav electronics engineer who worked as a graduate assistant and later as an intern responsible for technical support in Vladimir’s laboratory in the USSR. They became friends over the years, and although Vlad was older, they socialized a great deal outside work. They had defected together, escaping first to Japan during a scientific expedition, where Omar met Umai-ko-shi Shindo, the chief archeologist supervising the dig at a site that had interested Vlad because of spirits that were said to inhabit the area. Umai-ko-shi traveled to the United States with Omar and Vlad once they secured asylum.

Omar and Vlad had been practicing sorcery together for several years in the USSR. Omar became Vlad’s understudy, so the fact that Umai-ko-shi was a Tsukimono-suji, or White Witch brought together a series of forces and influences that culminated in the birth of her daughter Suki. Although Charles was sixteen years old when Suki was born, the four parents agreed that their children would wed one day. Arranged marriages were a throwback to their ancestors, and most of the children in the US rebelled against it, nevertheless….

They had grown up together in the USA, and the decidedly unorthodox lives of their parents had the effect of producing a bond between them, like cousins, and Charles was very protective of Suki as she grew up, although she was quite independent and very capable of defending herself. She nonetheless adored Charles as a hero of sorts, and although they went their own separate ways for a few years while attending college, they reunited at a family holiday and fell deeply and passionately in love with each other, and eventually married.

Suki, who had become a nurse-practitioner often called herself ‘Nāsu Witchi,’ (“nurse-witch”) amongst her friends. She embodied the mystery and passions of both cultures freely. She was sometimes regarded as aggressive, or confrontational, which was partly due to her economy of words and sparse context and partly because she made absolutely no concessions to fear or guilt, and embodied a sort of shamelessness in her pursuit of the ‘delicious delinquency of neoteny in (the) seduction (of all) things conventional, comfortable, or chaste.’

The fact that almost no one ever understood what she meant by that (partly owing to her rich arabesque of accents and nuances), also meant she tended to respond very strongly to anyone who did understand even a part of it, sufficient to provoke an intense tutorial of Tantric to those who deserved it.

She had about a half-dozen phrases she used as a litmus test for the uninitiated, but she had formulated that phrase shortly after she first became aware of her crush for Charles, who understood it so implicitly, that she affectionately called him her ‘(She-)Devil(’s) Advocate.’

It also meant that Charles understood that no matter how great her love for him, that she was her own woman, and no amount of devotion and dedication to her mate would prevent her from pursuing all of her interests.

Another favorite of hers was ‘(Perhaps, If) You(‘d) like, maybe we (can) make (some) crazy sex-fuck time together, OK?’

…And the door swung both ways. And it was good….

Because Charles always tried to encourage Suki to believe in her heart, that no matter what she did, he would always love and support her pursuit of any indulgence within their means unconditionally, and unequivocally and joyously.

For a very long while….

People usually say ‘…but over the years…things have a way of happening.’ or words to that effect, but in truth, things have a lot more ways of not happening…’

Years of childrearing, careers, and generalized ambition have a way of pushing Romance into the background. Unresolved resentments, bouts of poor health, surgeries, disappointments, fatigue and depression had produced the effect of alienation of affections.

If you spend years finding and receiving pleasure from one person, it is easy to understand why it is that when things go badly, that we also attach them to an unspoken resentment for the calamity of events that seem to well up around us, forever asking the question ‘What’s to keep them from doing it?’

They became isolated, and bitter like two old car batteries left unused on the floor of their garage, dissipated, no difference of potential left…no charge, no current flow…sulfurous, and caustic. Their comings and goings were of little consequence to each other, and they both generally despaired of life.

Charles had a nervous breakdown that lasted about four years. His work and his income suffered, but he kept his job and endured for no good reason in particular. He took high doses of four different anti-depressants that were having catastrophic effects on him physically and mentally.

Suki rarely got out of bed, spent most of the night in a reclining chair watching TV, snoring and falling asleep while smoking, setting herself on fire, and stating that she was always tired and never got any rest. They both got fat.

This is hell.

It is said that a true Buddhist would go straight into Hell to rescue a friend, but Charles and Suki were in two different versions of the same hell, unable to reach each other or rescue themselves…nonetheless…if you find yourself at the beach on the Lake of Fire…and say, several of you decide to go to a rave there…you might be amazed at the people you might meet.

There are, no doubt, any number of Buddhists who were meant to go to Hell for one reason or another, because of some Karma that they couldn’t escape, because it was part of their program, a glitch, a flaw, a paradox…a ghost in the machine…a date to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight…a character flaw, perhaps, but if we are not so quick to judge others harshly for their faults, instead recognizing them and non-judgmentally encouraging them to face everything fearlessly and shamelessly, we can learn to recognize our own mistakes and errors of judgment or action which we can neither escape nor deny without grievous consequences.

And Charles was very lucky because despite it all, he had paid ahead a great deal of good and positive Kharma over the years, such that it just so happened that one of the other Lost Souls standing there at that rave on the Lake of Fire would help him lead himself out of the flames, and maybe even save herself in the process…at least eventually.

Charles and Suki Get it all Back

And so it came to pass that a very young telemarketer also in the employ of PharmaCorp. was re-assigned to a seat facing Charles at a time when it would be difficult to imagine him being less susceptible to feminine guiles at all, and yet, there she was.

She worked in the cubicle that faced Charles’, and might have gone unnoticed if she hadn’t been so damn tall.

Even as Charles slouched into his office chair, he could still see her face peering around her monitor screen. He had never noticed her before, even though she had been with the company for over a year.

She was only about thirty-something, which those days seemed more like the new nineteen. She was very slender, petite and graceful in appearance, and much too pretty…it just hurt too much to even dream anymore…at least those days.

…But she wasn’t conceited, or full of herself, which still was not nearly as remarkable as was her sense of humor. She wasn’t just hilarious…she also found Charles to be the wittiest, and most clever rascal on the planet. Admittedly, Charles’ guard was down when humor, culture, intellect, or literature was involved.

It never occurred to him initially, that there was any other kind of connection between them.

He just felt better when she was around.

Charles had long since given up on the idea of even imagining having sex with anyone who would consider fucking him. As a vital, virile male, he was already dead, but in serious denial of the fact, despite disturbing suspicions.

Then, she ‘dropped her hankie,’ just to see if Charles would pick it up. She hinted at how there was something missing in her life without coming out and saying so…she let Charles figure that out on his own. She loved his million-dollar words and his generally chivalrous, but licentious nature.

She was not especially clever, in an intellectual sense, and she had become quite accustomed to being pursued by ‘the dirty boys,’ but wasn’t used to being seduced with words, or gestures.

That’s one thing upon which Southern women with a high degree of native intelligence who were not born of privilege could rely…that they will feel unappreciated, underestimated and indentured to a life that had not been of their own choosing from the beginning and was already winding down into wistful resignation without ever knowing the feeling of being swept away by a tide of passion and infatuation by a worldly man of letters, of experience, and danger, who will speak to them with deference and respect, who will ask them their opinions and make them feel important and worth paying attention to for something other than sex and other household chores.

To Jennifer, Charles was the most dangerously intelligent and sophisticated man she had ever met, and he didn’t seem preoccupied by her looks or her figure, but rather focused his attentions on her mind and her feelings.

Charles had been celibate for so long that the only time it hurt at all was when he was reminded of it.

Jennifer made him feel interesting and attractive, and somehow desirable, but what was really captivating was how badly they both needed validation from their spouse’s, and how provocative it was to experience it from someone else.

She was not very sophisticated, and would have made a lousy poker-player, because her emotions would have betrayed her every time. Where Charles was very deferential and showed her kindness and respect, she wore her heart on her sleeve from the moment she arrived at work until they left.

They made a very peculiar looking couple. She was tall, pretty, young and physically fit, and he was short, a bit overweight, and although he looked about fifteen years younger than he actually was, it was definitely a May-December work-spouse romance.

And although Charles had some concerns for what might have been regarded as impropriety, he quickly noticed that although most everyone in the building was aware of their infatuation, the effect was that he was treated with more respect than ever before by not only his co-workers, but his supervisors as well…and for good reason…once again, his sales figures were skyrocketing.

Telemarketers are a very superstitious lot, and for relatively good reason, because just like fishing, some days you are lucky, and other days you suck. Also, because of a practice called skill setting that is used in all computer-controlled dialers, there are any number of ways to stack the deck in favor of some, to the detriment of others.

Many extol the power of positive thinking, which can yield significant results, as long as you are not on the rolls of the Doomed, which is where about eighty percent of the sales staff is stuck at any given moment, but there is another intrinsic factor that for lack of a better term could be called Mojo.

In the fifties, white people called it ‘Moxy’ because well…they were white, and they couldn’t entertain the idea of anything ‘too ethnic,’ but where luck leaves off, a charmed existence is just getting warmed up.

When you are too cool to even need to swagger, because you have nothing to prove, and everyone wants to be your friend, nothing can stop you. You are Majik.

Nothing threatens you, and you possess a generosity of spirit that encircles you in its protection. When you possess it, you may not even think about it, and unselfconsciousness may well be one of its earmarks, but when it is gone, it will be conspicuous in its absence, and you will seriously consider selling your soul to get it back.

Most call centers are hotbeds of infidelity, and one more torrid affair could go unnoticed in a place like PharmaCorp, but there was something almost innocent and touching about Charles and Jenny that just seemed to make people smile when they were seen together.

Charles used to ‘dress for success’ when he first came to work, and was often mistaken for upper management by people who did not know him, but over the last eight years, he became increasingly disinterested in appearances, and referred to himself as ‘a walking clothesline’ and eschewed any pretense of any kind as regards his wardrobe, and dressed more like a ‘parrot-head,’ an expression for residents of the Florida Keys (also called ‘Conchs’ by the residents themselves).

He replaced his traditional suit and tie with his own version of the three-piece, meaning a floral print shirt open in front, worn like a jacket over a tee shirt, and jeans or shorts, sneakers and sunglasses.

He drove a Toyota four-wheel-drive pickup truck that was over twenty-five years old, and had been extensively modified and upgraded. It was tall and loud, and very aggressive looking. It was covered with every imaginable amateur radio antenna you could imagine… (and yes, he could, and had talked with the space station on more than one occasion).

As colorful a character as he presented, his boyish charm and his big beautiful willy could have gotten him an audience with anybody but the Pope, despite his frequently impoverished state through most of his life.

It clearly gave him pleasure and energized him just to see how far outside his class he could go in either direction.

He was an almost iconic manifestation of those of his generation who were raised and sent to colleges and universities by working-class middle-class parents who could barely afford to send them in the first place who truly believed that once you got a degree, every manner of success could be yours if you were only willing to work hard enough.

He was also one of many who proved the paradigm wrong, although he also frequently learned how to live outside all class structure by his wits and creativity at the most unpredictable moments.

As a result, when he felt mojo flowing toward and through him, he instinctively would go with the flow.

Suki, on the other hand, could and frequently did have any man she desired whenever she wanted, but had never been in love before, except with Charles.

She was uninitiated to the intoxication of The Crush of Infatuation, except with Charles. She was more uncomfortable than she would admit when Charles first told her about his attraction for Jenny, but once she intercepted a text message that asked ‘Have I told you that I love you today?’ She went into a high-speed tailspin.

Sex is one thing, but Love…Polyamory? That was not only out of the question…it was not even a question in the first place. ”How the fuck did this word suddenly spring out of nowhere without any warning? I never even heard anybody use it in a sentence before….”

She crashed and burned. She wept for days on end. She was inconsolable, and unreasonable. She read omens and meditated.

She felt defeated, despondent, and hopeless despite the fact that more than a year before, she had referred to her relationship with Charles as “Hopeless…it(’s just) gone, (and) that(’s) all there is (to it).”

Nothing is more seductive than forbidden or seemingly unattainable treasure. She became determined to discover how to regain Charles’ infatuation. She decided to learn how to get back something she thought she didn’t want until she realized how much somebody else wanted it.

She decided she wanted to learn to surf The Crush with Charles.

Sometimes, the ways of Majik and Power seem inscrutable, and the paths all obscured or blocked unless you learn to see what has previously been occult; before you learn to see with eyes that were as if they had been closed all your life before that moment.

Suki just needed a little outside intervention that happened to come when she least expected it, doing something she would have thought to be unrelated, that despite all her efforts to the contrary had paid her admission to yet another stage of enlightenment that she did not know she was seeking.

Which was a very good thing because none of us have all the time, monkeys and typewriters we would need without a little random, chaotic good luck and Majik Karma.

The Ballad of Charles and Suki III

‘…Every dog has his day, and every Cat will play…’

It might have all been different, but Fate is both a cruel Mistress and a benevolent lover, and Charles and Suki had unfinished business that might have gone unresolved, just to make peace, which would have been a tragedy of missed opportunities…however, some people are blessed by being given no quarter, and in the process Pain leads them to the highest pleasures much too good to be wasted on the weak of spirit, resolve, or courage.

Suki was the most leonine creature Charles had ever met. In fact, if she could have given herself a tongue bath, she would have been the most feline woman to ever live. She was regal, yet unpretentious. She took no amnesty from anyone, and was not inclined to give it. She was not cruel, but she was also not especially merciful…to her, everything had a consequence to it.

There was an unflinchingly sloe-eyed detachment in her demeanor that gave her a calculating, analytical appearance at first glance. She used it to cover her emotions, which boiled very near the surface at times…and she was ruled by her pride.

Of course, she was born in August, and the red highlights in her dark hair against her green eyes often disarmed less secure men and enchanted the boldest of them. She was a lioness at the very core of her nature, and fell in love with Charles because he was strong enough to stand up to her, smart enough not to try to tame her and wise enough to let her choose to be kept, as long as she believed the choice was hers.

She had lost that edge she had when they first met, and complacency, exhaustion and depression had taken over in its place. She resented the fact that Charles had found someone who worshipped his being and spirit long after Suki had become complacent and immune to Charles’ considerable charm and intellect…and this was part of the problem…Charles had not found her, she had found him….

Little did she know that everything that now consumed her every waking thought would merely be a warm-up, or preparation for the Main Event that would put everything back exactly where it was meant to be all along.

She had made desperate overtures to her husband that reeked of her insecurity and desperation, which sabotaged her every move. She hoped to capture his undivided attention even as he was being swept away by the infatuation of this new Crush that left her feeling vulnerable and threatened.

Charles on the other hand would have been ecstatic over the recently renewed vitality in his marriage if he was not forced to feel the barb, the hook that was always there in the form of Suki’s resentments and envy. She could have let the whole thing run its course, whatever that was.

As much as Charles would have liked it to be different, he sensed that Jenny was not likely to remain a permanent fixture in his life, and governed his actions accordingly.

Until Suki had come into his life, Charles’ marriages had been consistently impermanent due to a failure to be able to maintain the Romance that he required to give him inspiration and purpose, as well as the energy to balance his side of the equation for her.

In fact, Charles had fallen in Love with Suki on a double date that he and his fiancée went on with a business associate of his while Suki was in town for a family reunion. They had jokingly referred to each other as ‘Kissing Cousins’  over the years, and were like family to each other because f their parents’ friendship. She had seen many women come and go in Charles’ life and had a crush on him since she was about fourteen…(and Charles was thirty)…Suki knew all too well what it was like to be the other woman.

The truly great relationships in Charles’ life were with women he never married, and with whom neither he nor she took umbrage, but rather, leave…as in leave of absence…(in his heart, he left the light on, and the door unlocked).

And so it was that Charles never learned to despise those women the way his ex-wives had learned to despise him…and it was not in his nature to carry a grudge, even if he felt better when they were not around.

Suki could have been one of those women, and Charles had expected that there would come a time when she would need to leave him to learn those things he could not teach her, but as neither of them desired it to take place, so apathy and the commonplace displaced romance and adventure.

Little did she know that what would separate them temporarily would unite them in eternity.

Suki’s father had suffered a mild heart attack in Los Angeles, and she immediately flew out to her original home to care for him. It was just as well that she went when she did, because the tension between her and Charles seemed to hang in the very air they breathed, and this opportunity to take her leave would distract her from her desperation.

She had two very good friends who were married to each other, and several former casual lovers in the valley, and although the cocaine was not quite as good as what she and Charles had learned to avoid in Florida, it was as ubiquitous as Mickey Mouse, Coca-Cola, and Jesus Christ on the cross in L.A. and more or less free to a beautiful and exotic woman of mystery such as Suki.

The trick would be in being able to balance her responsibilities against her pleasures.

After about a week of tending to her dad almost night and day, she began to steal away once her father was asleep to spend her evenings with her friends, the ‘Bickersons.’ They had been together longer than she and Charles had even known each other, although Suki and Christy had been best friends since childhood.

She was petite with a porcelain complexion and corn-silk hair. The had shared a few lovers over the years in a very safe plain-vanilla sort of way that earmarks many a ménage a trois, and there had been no direct sexual contact between Suki and Christy, although they both joked about the possibilities many times over the years.

Keith was tall, had shoulder-length curly brown hair and looked like a roadie for the Grateful Dead. He was the archetypical southern Californian, ‘fer sure.’ He had a rich, deep broadcaster’s voice and a gentle, humorously infectious way about him, although he and Suki had never been even slightly attracted to each other, which was just as well.

They had picked her up at the airport when she flew into LAX and got her settled in before they took her to the hospital. There was something different about the way they acted this time however, but Suki couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was….

They could argue about the color of the sky on a cloudless day, and it almost seemed to be the undercurrent that fueled their relationship despite the fact that they barely recognized the obvious, and did not seem to be as adversely affected by their ongoing adversarial discourse as was those around them.

Finally, late one night they told Suki of their intentions to pursue a threesome with her. Although it was fraught with a few accommodations that had to be made for their generally neurotic relationship, it started with Suki and Christy exploring each other while Keith watched for as long as he could stand it, which was to say, not for very long.

Keith was well endowed and Suki and Christy treated him like an animated sex toy until he was completely spent, only to return their attentions back to pleasuring each other. It had a galvanizing effect on the both of them.

Although Suki was as indifferent as she had always been toward Keith, he was suddenly mesmerized by her to the point that he actually called Charles late one night to apologize for having overlooked this incredibly captivating creature for so long, and that although she happened to be Charles’ wife, he felt compelled to remark to him what a lucky guy he was.

Later that night, he told Suki he thought he was falling in love with her.

Wham! Like a bullet through the brain, she recalled her feelings when she intercepted the e-mail in which Jenny had asked Charles if she had told him she loved him today…and she realized she had done nothing to provoke it any more than Charles had, and that it is never wrong for anyone to tell you that they love you.

It disquieted her enough to prompt her to call Charles at five AM to tell him about it. She was grateful that he understood, but uneasy that he was so supportive and encouraging about it. Did nothing effect jealousy in Charles? Why not? She knew he cared, even if he didn’t mind…but why not? Why would jealousy be the way you express to someone that you love them?

Little did she know that this was only the beginning of her enlightenment.

The Ballad of Charles and Suki IV…Indeterminacy

…and now we begin again….

Christy and Keith had a house guest named Gerard Chineaux who had been away on business when Suki had arrived, so she had taken the guest bed, at least in theory, although she had usually only passed out for a few hours in their bed before returning back to her father’s house before six AM.

Gerard was in especially good spirits upon his return to southern California, and suggested he take them all out to dinner to celebrate. He was French, and his work visa had finally been approved. It had taken four days up in Sacramento and he was glad to be back.

Keith and Gerard had attended college together, several years ago, and although there was about fifteen years difference in age, they had become good friends, and had kept in touch over the years, even after he had returned to his homeland. Gerard had always been very good with money, and now he was preparing to set himself up in the United States.

Gerard was about five-nine or so, not especially tall or short, and wore his clothes very well. He had classic  chiseled Gallic features, dark, thick straight hair and an engaging sense of humor. He was prone to flashes of mischief in his eyes, and although he spoke impeccably good English, he frequently used to ‘French it up’ exaggerating all the stereotypical linguistics of his countrymen and even playing the part of the naïve tourist just to see how well he could pull some unsuspecting American’s legs…especially if they were pretty. The more helpless or guile-less he appeared, the more that women wanted to help him.

He was in excellent physical condition, and worked out several times a week, and was not muscle-bound, but lean and flexible with the moves of a feral cat.

It was good to be a Frenchman in L.A., especially if you had money, but then again, it’s always good to be a handsome Frenchman just about anywhere in the United States.

When this didn’t seem to captivate Suki’s attentions, he dropped the pretense and turned the charm up…way up…and this was rare for him, because he never really had to try at all to get what he wanted, and this was presenting itself as an intriguing challenge.

What he didn’t realize was that Suki was pulling his leg just to see how far he would go just to get into her pants. She was amused, and highly flattered because he was at least ten years her junior, although he was clear to casually mention more than once how much more European men appreciated mature women.

She was intrigued by his persistence and continued to play the seemingly oblivious Eastern-European/Asian dilettante…Mata Hari meets Tokyo Rose….

They were both playing with each other; he like she was a fine cello and she like he was a saxophone.

When they all got back to the apartment, Keith and Christy went into their bedroom to get a mirror and a blade long enough for Suki to suddenly turn to Gerard and suddenly say “‘OK monkey-boy…you want we make some crazy sex-fuck, yes?” With that, she slowly unzipped his fly and reached her hand into his silk boxers, never taking her eyes off his as she did.

It certainly appeared that he did want to…very much.

By the time she had produced his long, generous viande from his trousers, he was so erect that the head of his cock was shiny and had already extended itself from out of hiding beneath his foreskin, and every vein stood out as his prick twitched with each heartbeat. She kneeled before him and took him deep into her wet mouth and full, greedy lips.

She had almost all of him down her throat about the time that their hosts returned to the living room, prompting them to shed their clothes on the spot before even starting to chop the shale-like crystals and lay them out into long white rails on the mirror.

So they sat there in the living room, naked snorting coke and generally playing with each other, although the girls pretended to be more interested in each other, just because they knew it would provoke Keith and Gerard even more.

First, Christy and Suki started double-teaming one or the other of the two men orally, suddenly changing to the other without warning. They kissed each other deeply as they sucked and licked both the men.

Charles had always told Suki that whatever she did, he would always be standing there on her shoulder, encouraging her to embrace whatever adventure came her way. She thought about that right before Gerard entered her for the first time, and decided she ought to give him a good show….

Gerard’s cock was a little longer than Charles’, but not quite as thick, although it was definitely what she called “meaty” and though she most definitely preferred circumcised men, she had to admit that the sensation of his prodigious uncut member was extremely pleasurable, once she allowed herself to admit that she could feel the extra skin rolling and sliding back and forth inside her, most especially just as the corona passed her inner labia and the novelty of the feeling was rapidly bringing her to climax, which in itself was unusual, because she usually took a long time to cum with Charles.

The excitement she felt was exhilarating, and she was beginning to lose herself completely as she felt herself surrendering to the masterful fucking she was receiving. She usually took the lead, and loved to overwhelm a man even to the point of making him cum sooner than he intended, only to put his still throbbing dripping cock back into her mouth, just to prove she could get him hard again, but this time he was all over her and it was all she could do to keep up with his enthusiastic thrusting and stroking.

He had the roundest, hardest ass she had ever seen on a white man, and the way he worked his hips and pelvis was nothing short of obscenely sensuous as wave after wave of pleasure swept over her.

Then she opened her eyes, and realized how starstruck he looked as he gazed deeply into her soul. This was not something she had anticipated, or even wanted, but lost herself completely in as she felt both of them shuddering with wave after wave of orgasm while their bodies were simultaneously wracked with paroxysms of spasms, both of them crying out in ecstasy, sweating, grunting, and moaning as she felt his cock spewing a copious flood of semen deep into her hungry cunt, filling her until she would have sworn she could taste it, spilling out past his still-throbbing member and soaking her ass, the sheets and just about everything in sight.

She had intended to use a condom, and always did with strangers, but between the cocaine and the generally frenzied level of sexual excitement, she was secretly glad she had neglected to do so…she felt wickedly guilty as she wallowed in their flood of co-mingled fluids. Once she stopped hyperventilating, she went down on him again, savoring the taste of their human stew-broth and the taste they made together.

They tasted like Sin, like Sex, like Seafood, and the steamy aroma was intoxicating.

She was in no hurry, and was thoroughly enjoying her repast when he turned his head down to her thoroughly violated and soaked pussy, as he began to lap at her like a dog. This seemed to excite both of them even more, and he was soon hard again. She could not remember the last time she and Charles had fucked like that.

She then rolled over slightly raising her wet, dripping ass as she gyrated provocatively for him. He immediately picked up on the cue, and straddled her as he prepared to try to gently dilate her anus with the head of his prick. She quickly began to thrust her buttocks into his gentle strokes as he began to thrust more forcefully.

“Fuck me hard…no hold back…make (it) hurt real good. I (am) dirty girl that needs punished badly…, I am (your) whore.”

As it was happening, she could not believe the words that were coming from her mouth. It was as if she was possessed and it was Gerard that now possessed her completely. Somehow, the anonymity of the passions that overwhelmed her had taken her away to a place she was not going to be revisiting, and she felt safe in her surrender to this wicked, dirty fantasy.

She knew she couldn’t wait to tell Charles, but even if she left no detail unspoken, there was no way she could describe this escape, this surrender to which she was succumbing…at least not until she saw him face-to-face, and even then…could she? Would he understand the oblivion with which she had jumped into the volcano?

At least she did not have to worry about him witnessing her surrender. She was afraid that it might hurt him to see her so completely under the control of this handsome stranger whom she would undoubtedly not be seeing again, once she returned to south Florida.

Then again, it was Charles that had recommended that she experience the thrill of the infatuation of another person who made you feel worshipped, and wonderful. He had said that was his gift to her. How would he feel seeing his wife groveling before this Frenchman’s cock?

There is sanctuary in anonymity and it is much easier to lose yourself with someone who does not know you in the first place.

The Ballad of Charles and Suki V: The Uroboros

A few minutes after five AM Suki awoke with a start to the sound of the alarm on her phone. She had lost all track of time sometime before she lost consciousness, but it felt like five minutes sleep at best.

The next thing she noticed was that Gerard was already up, and was sitting beside her with a cup of fresh coffee and a croissant (courtesy of Seven-Eleven), smiling broadly like the cat that just ate the canary.

It was starting to come back to her now….

The sheets felt like moist Velcro as she tried to separate herself from them in order to attempt to sit up. She knew she only had about ten minutes before she had to be out the door to get back to her father’s house before he awoke. She also knew she was definitely not a morning person, but apparently Gerard was.

She knew what was making her feel so uneasy…she hadn’t experienced puppy love in a long time, and she was suddenly aware of just how long.

She thought about Charles, and then tried to not think about him…nothing was working…and Gerard was still sitting there looking starstruck and drunk with infatuation…and she also decided she was going to let herself feel good about this.

Gerard was too good to be true, so she figured as long as it was temporary, it was meant to be enjoyed. She wondered if he was really necessary for her to allow herself to feel so good about herself.

She was also aware of just how crusty and sticky she felt…It was time to go. Gerard kissed her for what seemed like half past forever until she finally had to pull herself away.

When Suki got into the car, she realized that due to the pounding and soaking her pussy and ass had received last night she was disinclined to put any panties on, and would be well advised to sit on a towel if she didn’t want to leave a slime trail on her dad’s new leather seats, but the towel was too rough, so she figured that she would just have to buy him a new chamois before he started driving again.

In the meantime, it felt strangely pleasurable to feel herself squirm and tingle every time she moved. She shivered, and laughed to no one in particular. It also gave her time to reflect.

She suddenly realized that she enjoyed how conflicted she felt…it was all just a part of the dance. You have to go outside your comfort zone to experience something new and fresh.

As she contemplated what had been happening, it occurred to her that she didn’t have to either complicate this, or analyze it. What made perfect sense was to let everything happen the way it was meant.

She began to re-evaluate her reactions to Jennifer’s crush on Charles, and the effect it had on him…as well as how she felt about it, In retrospect, she had envied how Charles must have felt, and was sorry she had spoiled it for him on a certain level by not being more supportive and understanding, as he had always been with her.

She did not like complications or loose ends, yet somehow she realized that this thing with Gerard would resolve itself naturally, and die the kind of natural death to which long-distance relationships are subject.

She also realized that her love for Charles was not diminished by her surrender to Gerard’s charms or his extraordinary talents as a lover. She thought to herself that she had been afraid to acknowledge that on a moment-by-moment basis it was not necessary to place Charles on some kind of pedestal that required that he be the best or only experience she was allowed to enjoy.

There is a great deal to be said about the ‘home field advantage’ both pro and con…familiarity is more likely to breed complacency long before it gives birth to contempt, or resentments. Given her choice, she was more likely to re-animate her marriage by surrender to passion than to boredom.

In truth, last night was the most amazing sex she had ever had with anyone, and she had enjoyed it with the full knowledge that Charles would always approve and encourage her to experience life to its fullest.

Nothing says that you have to be in love with whoever fucks you the best…if that didn’t bother Charles, why did she have so much trouble accepting it? As important as sex was in their lives, it was far from the most important element that they shared.

Charles was an amazing lover, and even now, she wished she could be with him…to know for certain that it had not spoiled their relationship. Although she already felt she knew Charles’ perspective and she mused that perhaps she needed to let him know that she finally understood.

Charles used to tell her that each of us deserves to experience life in a way that is unique to only us…something that is ours alone, that makes us feel special in a way that inspires us to share that essence, that sweetness if you will, with the rest of the universe.

The fact that we cannot describe the transcendent does not prevent us from expressing it by our actions. It means we have to believe in the power of everything that exists outside of words…the understanding…the common knowledge that passes between us…the fact that it is impossible to describe it just pushes and provokes us that much more to become a testament to our enlightenment as we receive it.

It felt wonderful to be adored and idolized by this stranger and to tap into the enthusiasm that he generated in her. It was impossible not to feel intoxicated by the lavishly heady indulgence of this crush that was empowering and flattering her. As independent as it made her feel, it nonetheless reinforced her love for Charles as well.

It was as if she suddenly realized that if her marriage could actually be enhanced by such an experience, that nothing could ever stop them.

It would be nine AM in Florida by the time she got to her father’s house, and she couldn’t wait to share last night’s adventures with her husband, and the fact that she could share them with him made her love him even more.

She also decided that she believed in Charles enough not to spare the details, or the truth of how delicious the whole crazy night had been. She also knew that words were not her strongest suit, but believed in the understanding that existed between them to communicate everything that ever mattered to her ‘…in the world before words.’

In her heart, she already knew….

CHARLES AND SUKI VI

After Suki got home, it took almost an hour to take care of her father’s medications and general supportive care, including his breakfast. Her father had always been an early riser. It seemed he would wake up well before seven AM for as long as she could remember. She had a piece of toast to go with her second cup of coffee for the day, which was usually about as close to breakfast as she ever got. She rarely ever ate before ten AM.

It was a little after ten Eastern Time when she finally called Charles. She was as disquieted as she was excited to tell him the news of her night before with Gerard.

“Shpilkes…” she mused out loud… (It often surprised her how these Yiddish words would come to her out of nowhere from her Eastern European heritage, usually when nothing in English quite did the trick.)

“That’s what (it) is…on pins and needles, anxious (to) share with Charles, but…still afraid (to be) too frank…he needs (to) know (that) it only increases (my) love for him…to know I (can) experience pure joy that (I) still take home to us…something we share together…I feel so empowered, so energized…so full of love…but not for Gerard; for (my)self, first of all, and I share everything with Charles…even if (it )’pinches’ him a little…I know I (can) make it up to him…to make him glad I did it.”

Years ago, they had been swingers…no affairs, no secrets, and nothing more than flirtatious affection with any outsiders. Those were the rules, because that’s all that they ever considered possible.

In the old days, she would have run from Gerard as if he was infected with the plague, but then again, everyone else had always ended suffering in comparison to Charles. Everyone else was just the spice, while Charles had been the whole meal.

Over the years, they had become complacent in their lovemaking to the point where it became almost nonexistent and not especially rewarding for either of them. They became jaded; they had lost their “’spark’’the Majik’ was gone…at least until Jenny had entered Charles’ life.

It sometimes seems that few things are quite as attractive to a woman as when she knows other women want it too.

Had Suki been willing to simply accept how honest Charles had been, or how demonstrative he had become towards her, she would have been able to see what a blessing Jennifer had been. Charles had gone from apathy to ecstasy almost overnight, and Suki had reaped the benefits.

He again had learned to see beauty and joy in his life, and it made her feel threatened that she had not been the one to be the source of so much enthusiasm. It didn’t help that Jenny was more than twenty years younger than Charles…even younger than Suki…old enough to have been his daughter. She feared that she could not compete against this girl who was so tall, so slender, and so beautiful.

Now she understood all too well, and already she knew, so did Charles.

Verbal eloquence was not Suki’s strong suit by any means, and she preferred to communicate by webcam, rather than the phone, so she rang him up and told him to go to the service they used.

Charles had become a great deal more intuitive about Suki’s feelings and emotions again, and seemed to sense that there was some sort of great revelation or occurrence that was forthcoming.

She had been quite frustrated since she arrived, due to the dysfunctional nature of the Bickersons’ relationship, and the sex play had been…well less than optimal to say the least, and she even had secretly resented that it seemed like Charles had to experience this crush over Jenny to get their lovemaking back on track, at least from her perspective.

Gerard was some kind of elixir or potion for her, and she was still intoxicated by it when she called. She knew it. She feared it would make Charles feel insecure, or hurt somehow, if he sensed her newly discovered joie de vivre was the result of her night with Gerard.

After the usual and perfunctory greetings, etc., Charles remarked that Suki looked tired and asked if she was getting enough rest, because she hadn’t slept well since she left.

She decide to just come out and say it, so she said she really hadn’t slept at all last night…and sheepishly grinned a little more than she intended. She saw Charles’ eyebrow rise quizzically, but he immediately smiled and gave her a wink.

“Oh?” He paused, and shook his head in a very bemused manner. “Did you have a good time, at least?

It was obvious that he was doing everything he could to encourage her to open up.

She hesitated just a bit, which let Charles know this might get a bit serious, and he realized he held his breath for a couple seconds waiting for her to speak. The longer she waited, the more anxious Charles could feel himself becoming, but he didn’t want to sound like he was giving her the third degree or putting words into her mouth, so he waited as she looked down and squirmed slightly (not a good sign).

“(I) got very high and fucked this guy named Gerard Chineaux last night…It was…shock to realize…how wild I got…something went crazy in me…so, yes, you could say (I) had really, really good time last night…maybe too good…I lost inhibitions…” (not something Charles had been especially aware of Suki having in the first place) ”…(I) felt like (a) wild animal. I started it, even though he (had been) flirting for me all night over dinner with Christy and Keith….”

“So they were aware of it?” Charles asked.

“They joined in (at) first when we (were) cutting (the) blow, but we finally went into (his) room…he’s been staying with them (for a) couple months.”

“So how long will he be there? Where will you be sleeping?” Charles did not want to sound intimidating, or encourage her to hold back, so he kept it light and non-judgmental.

“Maybe with him…I think…I mean if he invites me. I think he (is) already in love with me…he looks at me with brown puppy dog eyes…he’s just (a) kid…and (he) just stares like (he is) hypnotized. (Do) you think I should call (this) off before (it) get(s) out of hand?”

“Why?” Charles inquired. “Does he please you?…are you having fun?…why not enjoy the adventure for as long as you are there?…you are coming back, right?”

“Of course, my love…(I) can’t wait (to) see you again…I want (to) share this feeling with you…just like you tried (to) do with me after Jenny, only I (was) too jealous and insecure to understand…please be patient for me…are you mad?”

“God no!…I just wish we could have shared it, but it wouldn’t have been the same thing…you needed this, and you certainly deserve it…you have my complete blessing and encouragement.”

“(Would) you) want me (to) leave (the) web cam on tonight? Would (that) be something (that could) give you pleasure? (I) don’t want to have (any) secrets, but (I) don’t want (to) rub (it) in (your) face, either…”

“Full disclosure…no secrets…just promise you won’t hold back on my account…that would hurt my feelings. As long as he doesn’t mind…I don’t want to spoil it for you, especially at first, or make him feel self-conscious.”

“(He) doesn’t need to know…(I) am sure (I) can distract him enough (to) keep (his) mind on other things…maybe I(‘ll) ask later, but tonight (it) will be on all night on (the) dresser, with (the) screen turned off…if it notices, I(’ll) just tell it a video I wanted (to) making and offer (him a) copy if he wants….”

“I’m so happy for you…I think we are turning a new corner…I can’t wait to see you again…Three more weeks is a long time, but then I have you all to myself. I love you with all my heart and soul, Suki.”

Suki started to weep a little, which concerned Charles a bit until she finally said “Tears of joy for us, my dear…no worries…I love you (for a) thousand lifetimes…I am (a) very lucky girl.”

“Then I must be the luckiest man in the world…Goodnight, Suki. Call me this time tomorrow if you can…I’m really looking forward to seeing you perform tonight, so be sure to give us a good show.”

“I promise, mine love; goodbye (for) now.”

As it turned out, things just kept getting better and better…for everyone, and each night seemed like a different, slightly improved version of the night before. Eventually, Suki told Gerard that Charles had been watching their lovemaking. Gerard mistakenly took that to mean that he was a cuckold.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth, but even Charles had to admit that it was longer than he cared to remember since he had seen Suki so enthralled and overwhelmed by her surrender to sex with this amazing stranger.

Charles was going to have some very large shoes to fill when Suki got home.

It was not long after Suki’s return that Charles introduced her to Ash, Kali, Merlin, and The Home for Wayward Souls, or the Sanctuary as everyone was beginning to call it, nearly seven years ago.

Little did either one of them realize that this was not the last that they would see of Gerard.

CHARLES AND SUKI VII: A NEW CORNER IS TURNED

Once Charles and Suki were settled back into their life together in South Florida, they became regulars at The Sanctuary. Life was good again, and their relationship was renewed. 

Suki came to accept Jennifer’s relationship with Charles, and they got together as a threesome on a semi-regular basis, although Jennifer’s husband did not at all understand her love for Charles, despite the fact that she did everything she could to get him to understand how their relationship was enhanced in the process.

In fact, as time progressed, the schism between Jenny and Kyle began to widen, but the root cause was that he did not accept her as an equal, and was very guarded about revealing his true feelings, which resulted in resentful criticisms of her every move.

They had separated many times before in the previous seventeen years for reasons other than her infidelities, but those were the result, not the cause. Charles was not her first paramour, and she admitted that she doubted she would have stayed with Kyle if it were not for her two teenage children, whom she adored.

She was a good mother to them, and over the years had been the primary breadwinner, which seemed to bother Kyle a great deal more than Jenny.

And although she never once voiced it, there were times when Suki missed Gerard more than she cared to admit. Perhaps it was the adventure and the romance, or his extraordinary prowess as a lover. In retrospect, she recognized that she knew little about Gerard as a person.

For the three weeks they had shared in Los Angeles, he behaved a bit like a teenager trying to impress a young girl, throwing money around as if it was confetti, with showy displays and bravado, all the while prattling on and on about his plans for his restaurant in LA.

Even an amusement park can get boring eventually.

About the time that she found herself absent-mindedly reminiscing about the roller-coaster, she received a call from Gerard, who said he was coming out to visit her…not a request, an announcement. She noticed the difference, but a thrill ran through her body that seemed to drown out any other concerns, at least for the moment, as the anticipation of seeing her Monsieur Chineaux in the flesh once again….

Little did she know what was to come.

Of course, her first concern was to test the waters regarding Charles’ reaction to the news. She was not at all surprised by his overwhelming support and approval, even going so far as to inquire if she would prefer to share the experience, once the initial thrill of reuniting with her dashing gentleman caller had subsided sufficiently to allow her feet to touch the ground again.

She did not know how long he intended to stay, and was touched by how broad-mindedly he accepted the news, although the catch in his voice and the way his eyes glistened as he spoke to her assured her that it was by no means a cavalier decision. At that moment, she could feel her love and admiration for Charles wash over her like a giant wave in the surf, sweeping her off her feet and carrying her away to a place she had never been before. 

“This” she thought, “is real love.”

CHARLES AND SUKI VIII: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD…

It was Friday afternoon when Gerard’s flight arrived at Miami International Airport. Charles and Suki decided to go to pick him up together, but it was Suki who suggested that Jenny go with them. The two women had reached a truce of sorts, and were getting to be friends after a fashion, at least since Gerard had entered the picture.

For all his charm and worldly sophistication, Mssr. Chineaux had exhibited all the subtlety of a love-struck nineteen year old boy when he and Suki had been together in Los Angeles, and Suki thought that by including Jenny in the scenario, it might help distract Charles sufficiently to help balance and add perspective to their initial introductions,

Although Charles, Jennifer, and Kyle had gotten together for several ménage a trois’ over the last few months, Kyle was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. Jenny was obviously infatuated with Charles and as she and Kyle were swingers, rather than practitioners of Polyamory (which Jennifer often mis-pronounced as “Polyarmory”), for Kyle to actually witness Jennifer’s crush on Charles was almost more than he could bear.

Swinging and Polyamory have about as much in common as a carnivore has with cannibalism, and in more than one private moment Jennifer had asked Charles if he ever had tried to imagine “What it might be like if their lives had turned out differently…” and once had even sent him an e-mail that had read “…sometimes, you make me wish I was single again…”.

Charles had been disquieted by the remark, but before he had the chance to address it, Kyle had read it. He probably, in retrospect, had good reason to have started monitoring her messages, and this only increased his jealousy and suspicions.

They had a huge argument over several other items he found in her text messages the day before she announced that she was going to the airport with Charles and Suki to welcome Gerard, and even though Charles had personally invited Kyle, he most ungraciously declined.

True to form, it turned out that Gerard had a limousine waiting, and reservations for a suite for the weekend in Key West. Charles asked what were they supposed to do with his car, and Gerard stated that he would pay for long-term parking until their return on Monday.

Gerard then opened a magnum of Dom Pérignon, an once of fine shale cocaine, a Deering grinder, a large mirror, and a pre-rolled one-hundred dollar bill, declaring “Let the games begin!”

He was quite sophisticated and worldly, and what he lacked in subtlety he more than compensated for in generosity as a gracious albeit grandiose host. And as a Man whose stock and trade was decorum, he took an obsessive pleasure in violating it according to a charmingly childlike innocence in his generosity amongst those he considered his friends.

Jenny called Kyle to give him the news about going with Charles and Suki to Key West.

To say that it was not well-received would be to elevate understatement to the level of High Art, and after a very heated exchange, she hung up and turned off her cell, muttering epithets that strangely resembled an X-rated diatribe from an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard.

She then turned her full attentions and affections on Charles in a most unsubtle and almost pathetically predictable display, taking his cock out of his pants and giving him a blowjob in front of Gerard and Suki before the limo had barely gotten onto I-95 south.

She was wearing a very short skirt and no panties and clearly made it a point to be sure that Gerard and Suki got a good eyeful of her smooth, wet snatch and puckered starfish as it winked back at the two of them.

Not to be outdone, Gerard kneeled in front of the seat facing Charles and Jennifer to lavish Suki’s glistening labial folds with a slathering tongue-lashing in a display that would have made his countrymen proud.

Indeed, if there were ever to be appointed a senior statesman or diplomat of the oral tradition for which the French are famous, it would have been him, and he left her squealing and squirming in the throes of numerous waves of pleasure before he even produced his impressive cock.

Somehow, neither Jennifer nor Gerard seemed to notice how Charles and Suki maintained eye contact…not the kind of scrutiny so characteristic of jealousy so much as a nod here, a wink there, and a more or less continuously bemused smile of consent and encouragement. 

This was not their first rodeo, and it wasn’t likely to be their last.

Suki then encouraged Gerard to introduce Jenny to the joys of fancy French Fucking on a grand scale that looked like he was about to turn her ‘Majic Hat’ inside-out while Charles videotaped them and Suki prepared, cut, and laid out more lines on the mirror.

Just before they reached Homestead, Charles produced a surprise of his own. He had managed to acquire a small bottle of pure MDMA, or “Molly” as it is called on the street before it is cut and turned into ‘Ecstasy.’

By the time they passed the Eighteen-Mile Stretch from Miami to Tavernier, they were in a naked frenzy of passion that didn’t miss a beat until they were past Summerland Key.

They put enough clothes back on to get into their two-bedroom suite at the Santa Maria Hotel in Key West and Gerard started ordering room service like an Arab sultan.

More champagne, caviar, shrimp, sushi, lobster, clams, oysters, and every sort of fish and crab available, plus a standing rib roast and an entire tenderloin of aged beef, several baskets of fruit, a bottle each of Appleton Estate 30 Year Old Rum, Asom Broso 11 Year Añejo Tequila, Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-Year-Old Bourbon, Laphroaig Islay 18 year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, U’luvka Vodka and his own personal favorite, Jade VS 1898 Review Absinthe.

It was clear that Gerard was showing off to impress everyone, especially Suki, but he was just so damn lovable, charming, (and French, which seemed to impress Jennifer even more than it had Suki) and his generosity and good spirits seemed to know no bounds.

It turned out that he had to call ahead over a month in advance to arrange for some of the items (like the absinth, and the $1200 per bottle tequila) to be ready when they arrived. He personally presented the Asom Broso to Charles because Suki had told him how much he liked tequila.

Just to round out the menu, there was an ounce of Kush that Gerard had picked up in Amsterdam, and the legendary Volcano vaporizer, to insure the utmost discretion in preventing incriminating smoke from advertising their cannabis consumption.

Fortunately, both Gerard and Jenny were as exhibitionistic as they were voyeuristic, allowing Charles and Suki to observe each other getting pleasured by (an)other(s), which they greatly enjoyed, and generally preferred whenever possible.

Eventually, “The Main Event that (I’m) sure you(’ve) all been waiting (for)…,” as Suki put it consisted of she and Jenny soixante-neuf as their lovers impaled the two women from behind.

Charles stared into Gerard’s face as Gerard fucked Suki as she watched Charles cock plowing Jenny’s now deeply furrowed mound as she licked and sucked the both of them, and Jennifer slathered Gerard’s cock as he fucked Suki paying careful attention not to ignore Suki’s swollen, almost pendulous clitoris.

As sexual gymnastics approaches ballet, it takes a very special sort of person to appreciate the less-than-subtle nuances and dynamics of this simultaneously salacious, yet touching and poignant quadrangle of flesh and emotions. 

And for all of them at that moment in time, it was a shared experience of bliss that was for each of them, an album of postcards from paradise, snapshots of Heaven and vacation videos of Valhalla without agenda or pretense.

At that moment in time, it was sacred sex worshipping at the feet of the tragically beautiful and magnificent, yet ephemerally eternal colossus of all Life Itself, writhing to the Apocalypso as they wallowed in pleasure without pretense, consequence, or remorse.

It wasn’t until they all mutually agreed that the only thing they still desired was sleep that the question of who would be sleeping with whom even entered the conversation. Charles hadn’t slept with anyone else for a long time, and the novelty of awakening next to Jennifer with his wife only a few feet away in the next room with another man that she had been sleeping with for almost three weeks intrigued him.

Jennifer had often alluded to a secret fantasy of spending a weekend in Key West with Charles ever since a few weeks after they met. She was about as sweetly sincere and seemingly guileless a soul as he had met in longer than he could remember.

She was straightforward and unpretentious in her manner and speech although she was not nearly as simplistic as people often anticipated her to be.

Nonetheless, Charles had only considered it to be a harmless fantasy until this weekend.

Her voice sounded like Holly Hunter on helium and she often assumed the persona of a slightly goofy but charmingly good-hearted simpleton when she thought it might get her what she wanted…especially on the telephone, and she could turn that southern drawl of hers on and off like a light, much as Gerard was often known to do with his French, and there was a great deal of banter that went back and forth between them as they eventually settled into a kind of mutually pleasing degree of accent between them, as if they were sounding each other out like musical instruments between members of a string quartet.

As Charles and Suki pondered the possibilities, there was a surprise moment when they both thought that Jenny and Gerard might have volunteered that they adjourn together for the near-dawn slumber, but it was quickly agreed that Gerard would recline next to Suki, leaving Charles and Jennifer in recumbent slumber in the other bedroom.

Apart from some first-light snuggling and canoodling, neither couple arose until after eleven AM, when they got up for coffee, some brunch and discussed plans for the rest of the day.

CHARLES AND SUKI IX: WHO KNEW?

It was during those early-morning canoodlings that the weekend turned a corner into a neighborhood no one anticipated, and it happened almost simultaneously in two separate rooms.

First Suki awoke to the sensation of Gerard tenderly nuzzling her neck as he softly whispered to her in French. They had been spooning for several hours as they passed out together, and the feel of his breath, lips and tongue caressing the nape of her neck was especially pleasurable, and although she spoke only a little French, the sheer romance of these unknown words only added to the deliciously languid pleasure of indulgence as she lay there, enjoying being pleasured and pampered this way.

She was still quite exhausted, and felt slightly lazy and perhaps even a bit selfish, although not at all guilty as he caressed her breasts from behind as she lay there, passive, but by no means inert.

Slowly, she felt his tongue start to run further and further down her spine as he lightly rubbed her belly, which almost tickled in a most delicious and sensual way. By this point, the moist folds of her labia were so swollen and distended that she could feel her quickening heartbeat starting to throb between her loins.

As good as it all felt, she was not sure she was ready to resume the delicious stretching and punishment she anticipated from Gerard’s swollen Gallic member as she felt it grow while she trapped it between her thighs.

Soon his tongue was lightly tickling the small of her back and licking the top of the cleavage of her buttocks, as he began to roll her over onto her belly, nuzzling the soft generous mounds of flesh, parting them with first his nose, and then his tongue.

Gerard’s technique was as smooth as remoulade, and Suki was disinclined to discourage his efforts as he pleasured her derriere with his tongue and mouth. She was most appreciative of ‘the dark kiss’, and found herself especially aroused in her passive role as he worshipped her from behind.

She was neither surprised nor adverse to the feel of the wet tip of his cock-head as it pressed against her thoroughly moistened anus, which she began to push back against very seductively, feeling his foreskin begin to slide backwards as he rubbed against the cleft between her buttocks. Charles was ‘cut’ (circumcised) as were most of her other lovers and the novelty of this extra flesh was intriguing to her.

When she began to realize that he was being even more patient than she anticipated, she started to push harder against his cock as she felt it start to dilate her brown eye as she shivered with pleasure and anticipation.

She was quite fond of anal penetration and realized that she was a little surprised they had only gotten around to it once when she had been in LA with him before, but she was as ripe for a good ass-fucking as she had ever been, and was somewhat grateful to give her swollen pussy a brief vacation, even though she knew she would be clamoring for more before noon.

She secretly thanked the genius who decided to market Astra-Glide, as well as her lucky stars that Gerard had the good sense to use it as he deftly began to drizzle it onto the length of his member, allowing it to slowly bathe and drip between her cheeks as he gently stroked and poked her bottom while she raised her buttocks to meet and match his prodding.

The slower he went, the more she wanted him to just plow into her, forcing her open, stretching her so pleasurably apart in wanton lust as she buried her face into the pillow, reaching behind herself and spreading her ass as wide apart as she could, grunting “Fuck me…fuck (me) hard…fuck (my) ass and make (me) scream…fuck (me) like (a) drunk whore…split it (me) in half, you beautiful French Fuck!”

The fact that her face was in the pillow, or that she was speaking a mixture of Yugoslavian and Japanese made no difference. Such is the beauty and mystery of the international language of passion.

She began to feel a rumbling warmth and a tingling deep in her bowels. She began to feel her rectum dilating even further as she pushed upward to meet his increasingly vigorous thrusts.

With each stroke, he pulled out completely just long enough to allow her asshole to gape, then clench, only to force it even further open as he plowed his throbbing cock even harder into her as she began bearing down to greet his now violent assault. Then, he suddenly stopped, just so she could feel his corona pass her sphincter, pushing back his foreskin as it piled up against itself, and pausing to slowly roll and fold back as he pushed the rest of the length of his meaty girth deep into her.

She felt a clenching kind of spasm begin to wrack her belly uncontrollably. For a brief second, she was afraid she was going to shit all over both of them, and yet somehow she didn’t even care.

She did not however, even though it felt like her entire abdomen was about to have a seizure, but it was overwhelmingly pleasurable. She was hyperventilating so much that she got dizzy, and thought she was going to pass out, as her vision went black, right before she began to feel wave after wave of warm pleasure fill her, his throbbing cock exploding deep, and far up her ass.

The warm flood of semen felt like it would never stop, and that would have been fine with her if it hadn’t. The hot tingling sensation of millions of frantically swimming sperm invading her body, spilling into her grew, as a river of cum became a lake, and then an ocean, squishing past his throbbing cock between her gaping and clenching glory hole, pouring out of her and squirting and making that smacking, snapping, slurping sound from continuing to fuck and thrust and soak each other until she lost consciousness completely; he collapsed on top of her and she thought he would crush the life from her.

At that moment, she didn’t care, but as luck would have it, he didn’t.

When she awoke a few moments later, he was babbling like a madman.

“I want you forever…let me treat you like a queen…like you deserve…come back with me to Los Angeles…I want us to live together…you can have anything your heart desires. Be my love forever.”

“Gerard, mon chère, as much (as I) love you, I (am) married to Charles. We are fortunate (to be) allowed a kind of passion and love most people never know, but (my) true heart belongs to him, and (it) always will.”

“But what can he give you that I can’t?” he implored.

“History…Years of it… (His) blessing to be with you as I choose. You could even say he gave me you…I am not (a) cheater. As beautiful and masterful (a) lover as you (are), I would not have slept with you (that) first night if (I) didn’t already know (that) it was like he was there on (my) shoulder, encouraging (me) to explore, to be adventurous, (and to) follow (my) heart, (and) that always leads (me) back to him.” There were tears in her eyes as she spoke.

“I can give you that…not the history all at once, but you could come and go as you please…I can even pay the transportation both ways whenever you want, no strings attached.”

“But would you really be happy with (that) arrangement? Charles and I have built (a) life together…I have (a) career of my own, (that) I love, too. You are like (a) gloriously indulgent vacation…I can let myself fall in love with you because I know (that) I already have (a) life to go back to that is always waiting (for) me.”

Suki continued “We are not equals in many ways. Although I (do) not possess (the) means and financial privilege (that) you do, I do not envy (it). You do not have (a) primary love like I (do), and (I) fear you (will) end up feeling envious and bitter for that. You already want(ed) (to) try (to) take me away from Charles…that is not (a) good sign for me.”

“Will you still want to be with me if I come to visit you?”

“Of course…I have already very strong feelings for you. You excite me, and you (are) charming and fun…and (a) wonderful lover…”

“Better than Charles?”

“Better not to ask… (a) little mystery is good….keep (you) both on (your) best behavior.”

Meanwhile, in the other room…

Around dawn, Charles awoke to the sensation of Jennifer gently licking his cock and balls like it was an ice-cream cone, giggling like a school-girl with a crush, and winking provocatively, blowing a kiss from the palm of her hand as he opened his eyes.

“Good morning, my love…hope you don’t mind if I started eating without you…I’d offer you a bite, but I thought you might prefer a little sushi for breakfast…if you’re hungry for some fresh Virginia snapper, or maybe a salty clam on the half-shell…what’cha say, Big Guy?…think you might like to wake up like this every morning?

Charles was always amused by the way Jenny called him ‘Big Guy’ considering she was more than a half-foot taller than his somewhat diminutive five-foot-five stature.

She was slightly over six feet tall and usually did it as she was looking down at him, and she usually did it when someone else was watching in the hope that they would question the incongruity, to which she would wink and say “Don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer.”

In truth, Charles was not all that well-endowed length-wise…a little over seven inches or so (nice enough, nonetheless), but the girth was a real jaw dropper for most women…easily as wide as his thick, meaty wrists.

His forearms were unusually well-developed, and his biceps swelled enough to slightly stretch most short-sleeves. He was barrel-chested and generally very well-muscled, but a little overweight, by maybe twenty pounds or so.

But truth be told, it was his mind and his heart that really captivated her, long before he ever bedded her.

He was also more than twenty-five years older than she, but had the kind of rugged good looks that seemed to exude testosterone like rosin from a pine tree despite a sort of boyish charm, beautiful hazel eyes and a smile that could melt the heart of any woman from eight to eighty-eight. Yet he looked worldly and dangerous in a way that Jenny was unaccustomed to encountering in most of the men she had known previously.

There was none of the bravado or swagger so characteristic of younger men who would rather flaunt their ignorant false courage and quick temper in arrogance than allow anyone to see their fear, weakness or vulnerability.

He acted like a man who had nothing to prove.

She was tall, thin, blonde, and simply beautiful. She carried herself well despite a sort of lankiness that reminded one of what Uma Thurman must have looked like in her late teens. She had firm, perky looking breasts and you would never have guessed she had already borne two children before having her tubes tied.

She was a little self-conscious about her somewhat broad, squared shoulders, but it is doubtful that anyone else noticed it if she didn’t mention it. They made a striking couple together, and they never failed to turn heads everywhere they went.

Oddly enough, it was she who seemed to beam the most, as if she was just so proud to be seen with him. When he was with her, he exuded this self-assured unassuming confidence that seemed to say “Why don’t you just ask her?”

He liked to call it their ‘Sweet Majic.’

So as to not sound as if he was completely avoiding the question, he said “I’ll have the sushi platter…everything that’s on the menu, my darlin’…”

“But you didn’t answer my question sweetheart…” he felt her grip around his cock tighten very slightly.

He knew the question she wanted him to answer, but tried to dodge it, at least for a moment while he tried to think his way out. This was not the first time this question had arisen.

“You asked me sushi or clam…I said ‘sushi’…what’s the problem?…Red Tide or something?”

He sensed a very slight tenseness in her voice…one that he was not used to hearing except occasionally when she spoke to her husband Kyle.

“No dearest…the other question…about waking up together every morning…don’t try to be a fart smeller…I mean smart feller…” (she tried to giggle just to take the edge off, but it didn’t convince either one of them…they were definitely headed for a showdown if he didn’t think up something very good, very quickly.)

What’s to stop us? Do we need to find us a bed for three…or four? I’d love nothing better than a big house by the sea…are you sure Kyle would be down with that?”

“Fuck Kyle, Goddammit!”

“OK, now don’t get me wrong…I think he’s a great guy and everything, and all things considered, I’d say he has a very generous and open heart…we’ve shared a few winks and a high five or two while we were having some ‘Dutch Door’ action with you in the middle, but man-ass is just not my kind of cup of tea, babycakes…why?…did he say something?”

Charles should have known better…he was over-playing the duck-and dodge humor card, and he could have sworn he was starting to feel just a touch of fingernails in her ever-so-slightly tightening grip on his prick.

“Kyle and I are not the question! The question is you and me. I got two young kids, and I’m about to become a single parent at the rate things are going…”

“Well, I think the kids should really sleep in their own beds…and I’ll have to run that by Suki…but you two seemed to get along pretty well last night…and there are few things more beautifully touching and poignant than the sight of two women pleasuring each other…I think she is really starting to become very fond of you, in fact…hmmmm…so a California King-size bed for the three of us and separate beds and rooms for the kids…”

“I sure do love the way you think, my statuesque Southern Belle…maybe get a house with a guest room, or even a mother-in-law cottage for when Gerard comes to visit…unless we all decide to do a big ‘dog-pile’…I get the impression you might like that too, just for variety…I saw the way your eyes rolled back in your head when he shoved that big French ‘Franc-Footer’ in you…but I’m not the jealous type, you know…”

”I just love to see you being pleasured…usually it’s the things a magician pulls out of their majic hat that impresses everyone, although I thought he was going to turn yours inside-out…”

Charles was on a roll, all right, but he did not have the good sense to realize it was straight downhill, and he was just babbling out of nervousness. His imagination for improv had long outstripped his good judgment. Jenny’s loss of patience was about to turn into what she called a ‘Virginia Mad-On.’

She relinquished her grip on his pull-toy (which now more resembled cooked linguine, or maybe lasagna, considering the width) and began to weep softly.

“OK…I get it…you can’t blame a girl for tryin’…you make one hell of a catch, Mr. Charles, and if I was Suki, I don’t know if I’d be so quick to share you with another woman, but I guess she knows your heart well enough to know she’s got nothing to worry about…from where I see, that makes her about the luckiest gal alive…”

Charles eyes glistened a bit and he blinked a few too many times to hide the sadness he felt as he watched her pour her heart out to him.

Charles added “Look, what we have together is amazing. What we miss by not having the chance to wake up together on a regular basis is offset by not having to argue about money, or how to raise our children, PMS, who does what chores or one or the other being too tired or bored…all that everyday shit that just gets to be too much for most couples…overwhelms them like a dark cloud of toxic gas and chokes the life out of the love they knew.”

He went on.

“It came damn close to happening to Suki and I…and you were the one who helped encourage Suki to be open to both you and me, as well as to Gerard…you saved our marriage, and you could say you saved my life…you resuscitated the Paramedic…breathed life back into an emotional corpse…”

Jenny interjected “But why can’t I just be good enough all by myself?”

“So you’re saying you wouldn’t want to be in Suki’s shoes?”

“I wish to hell I was!”

“Then just try to imagine her as the “other woman”…pretend I’m a traveling salesman…I don’t know…because if you were in Suki’s shoes, I wonder if you would be so understanding about the likes of you…think about it, honey….”

Between the sobs, she blurted out “It’s just that Kyle and I are about done…I’ve been leaving him for years now…I tried a couple times already, but then I let him back, even though really doesn’t make me happy like you do.”

“You have to learn to make yourself happy…I know you don’t want to hear that kind of shit right now, but it’s true…I can’t help wondering how long it will take before you grow bored with me…maybe it’s the attraction of wanting something you can’t have that you really love.”

He went on. “Many times when I listened to you bitch about one thing or another about your husband, I couldn’t help thinking that could be me you were talking about to somebody else…don’t look so surprised…I’ve thought about it too…we’ve been in love with each other for almost a year now…I don’t need to change anything in my life…right now, I wouldn’t change a thing if I could…I like being your escape, your getaway…your moment of bliss, as well as mine.”

He softened his tone as he reached out to touch her cheek. “I know you remember that night after work, before we even acknowledged what was going through both our minds…and hearts. I said to you that I think I needed to find a woman who was just as interested in keeping what she already had as I was…it wasn’t until that moment that it hit me that you were that woman, ‘cause you sighed just a little and put your arm around me and kissed me on the top of the head as we were walking out of the building to our cars.”

“We didn’t even kiss for almost a week after that” she added. “I thought I was going to burst waiting for you to seal the deal…”

“I like to take my time to savor each passing moment” he said.

Then she blurted out “You do know I only intended for you to be a fling, a flirt…Kyle was OK with all that, and always has been. You were just supposed to be a blowjob or two in the parking lot, maybe have you finger me while I sucked your cock…Not what I’d call a sympathy fuck or anything like that…I admit I got a pretty bad case of you awfully quick, but I think the longer you made me wait, the more I wanted you in a different kind of way…and when I finally got what I thought I wanted, I just ran completely off the rails.”

“Me too, baby…me too…I love that feeling I get when I don’t see you for a couple days…feeling infatuated, and preoccupied…wondering what you’re doing, knowing I can’t get you out of my head or my heart.” Charles started to choke up a bit at that point, and took a long deep breath.

“So why not have me all the time? “I’m yours for the asking”, she blurted out as he paused, and then it hit her…”Because then you would be thinking about her instead of me?”

“Well, not exactly. Suki and I had a damn near perfect relationship for years that just went south for no good reason we could really put our fingers on…the same reasons most couples grow apart, I guess, but when you came along, I found myself full of hope and optimism…I dared to dream about things…ideas and ideals I’d had since I was very young…that I had long forgotten or given up on.”

“I thought maybe it really was possible to live the dream, because it was like I was falling in love with the both of you at the same time…I owe you my life for giving me back my love affair with Suki, and sometimes I fear she never would have fallen back in love with me if it weren’t for you…when she had to choose the Lady or the Tiger, she sent me to you…are you sure you could do the same? Would you?”

As he paused to smile at her, they both started to weep openly as they embraced and kissed each other like it was their last moment on earth.

They gasped and sobbed as they fucked each other with a ferocity and frenzy that could have passed for hatred to the uninitiated, but as they lay there gasping in each other’s arms, Jenny pushed a few locks of hair away out of Charles’ eyes and sighed.

She said “I don’t know…I really just don’t know…I just know that right here and now in this very moment that I love you in a way that I’ve never known before…and right now that is all I know in this whole world. Maybe that is all I need to know.”

Charles said “I wish I could remember who it was that said we already have everything we need and we already are everything we need to be, if we can just learn to recognize what that is.”

“I think you just did…” she whispered. “…except you just said it a little different from any way I ever heard it before…but then again, maybe I just wasn’t listening with the same ears.”

That night, they all partied and sucked, and fucked and snorted and dropped and rolled and tripped and smoked and burned and vaporized with a passion that deserved to become legendary, if only by the telling here. Dionysius and Bacchus were probably watching, or even lending spiritual support that night, for all they could tell…

…And it was good, like the way God said each day… 

The next day, Charles and Suki woke up alone as room service was knocking at their door. At first, they were grateful it wasn’t the police…they had gotten pretty wild and loud the night before, and even rich people in Monroe county occasionally have to answer for their sins or indiscretions if they get too far out of hand, and there were a few moments for which they could not have accounted at all, had they been pressed for answers or explanations.

After room service left, they began to wonder where the fuck Gerard and Jennifer had gotten. The cart was filled with every sort of indulgence that could be contrived for breakfast, brunch, luncfast or pagan sacrifice, including champagne, caviar, a red rose, and a yellow one as well. There was also a note inside an envelope that read:

Dear Charles and Suki,

I am writing this for the both of us; partly because Gerard says my handwriting is prettier. (lol). Anyway, we had a long talk early this morning after you two passed out.

What you two said yesterday morning was not what either one of us wanted to hear, but both collectively and individually, what you two said made a lot of sense, especially when we started to compare notes this morning. Neither one of us could sleep. It was the most amazing night of my life. (Oh yeah, and Gerard says it was for him too, btw. lol).

Anyway, although we both love you very much, the other thing Gerard and I have in common is that we don’t have a primary person like you two do. If you two didn’t have each other, we know this whole thing would be a lot easier for all of us ‘cause we would all be on common ground already and we could all come and go as we pleased. (No pun intended, lol).

Gerard and I both need a primary person, and somehow in all the wonderful madness of this weekend, we realized that although we don’t have all that much in common, we did have a lot of fun together, and we both find each other attractive in many ways (I know you know what I mean, Suki, lol). We both also acknowledged that there is a part of us that still wants to be with each of you (actually both of you, I guess).

Sooooo, to make a long story just a little longer (lol), we figured we could satisfy each other’s needs pretty well. (I have to confess we both fucked like a couple of bunnies this morning without you, and it was pretty special in its own way.) It’s kind of crazy, but somehow it felt like we were cheating, but it just happened as we were talking. Maybe we are just helping each other out while we try to get over you two, but I hope not, and neither does Gerard.

We have already left to go back to my house to pick up my kids. We left a limo for you two. Gerard leased a small jet for us to fly back. Kyle and I were never actually legally married, so he has no claim, although I don’t want to keep him away from the kids, so we will be coming back to Florida on a very regular basis.

Maybe you can see where this is headed already, but we thought if we came back as a couple, we could get together with the both of you when we do, I don’t know how we will be feeling about any of this for a couple of months. Who knows? Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Us as a couple, hanging out with you two?

It’s kind of strange that we’re not really in love with each other the way we are both in love with both of you, but somehow it seems to make sense right now. (I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I hope you both feel a little jealous, though, lol.)

We’ll get in touch after we get back to LA.

PS:

Charles, you said something yesterday morning that made me think. You said I saved your life and your marriage, and yet I couldn’t help feeling like you broke my heart in the process, but then you said ‘we already have everything we need and we already are everything we need to be, if we can just learn to recognize what that is’ and I thought, Jenny, follow your heart. It lead you here, and maybe you just need to recognize that you have the answer right here in front of you all along.

Maybe my grandma was wrong. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it too. (I never really understood exactly what she meant by that, because what else would you do with a piece of cake? Put it under your pillow? lol).

But maybe there is a way to have it all, or at least to have it both ways. (lol) I suppose if I was going to go both ways, I’d rather do it with you, Suki. (btw, I never did anything like that with another woman before and didn’t really think I ever would, so you should feel very flattered (lol), and you are very welcome. 

Love Always,

Jenny and Gerard

And so, my friends that is the story of how Charles and Suki came to embrace The Home for Wayward Souls, and Polyamory, and how they became such an integral part of the lives of Ash and Lilith, Merle, Darcy and Mark.

This is what they brought to the picnic….

THE SON OF MAN RECEIVES SENTIENCE

…And now back to our regularly scheduled story about The Home for Wayward Souls and The Talking Monkeys…(all that hot sexy stuff about Charles and Suki was very nice adult entertainment and did provide a backstory for the main theme of the work at hand, and may have even gotten the attentions of a few more readers…) but when we last saw our heroes and heroines, they had just realized that Frederick had been decreed to be the ‘Missing Link’ in their search for higher consciousness while partaking of their newly-discovered sacrament which they had dubbed ‘The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,’ an analog isomer of a drug that Merle was developing as a next-generation anti-depressant for PharmaCorp that possessed properties so unique and marvelous as to make psychedelic drugs look like Flintstone Vitamins…

The rest of the next week was preoccupied with one thought, which was essentially a question. And out of the one question, many others were to follow.

And that first question was ‘Where do we draw the line?’

Next came ‘Are we even the ones to draw it?’

When man first branched off into a separate species, just what was it that suddenly made him so special? Now that we possess the essence of true sentience, (or at least another portion of it via The Knowledge) who are we to withhold it from other species?

‘Is that line not simply drawn in sand? What’s the harm? Of what are we so afraid?’

The expression ‘Child is father to the man’ came to mind. What Mark and Darcy had discovered, and learned from Frederick in terms of telepathic abilities hinted at potentials for great advances in human consciousness, and indeed, it would appear that in order to learn from Frederick it would suggest that they had an obligation to give as much back as they got. 

Were they really so afraid of losing our presumed advantage as the apex of primate development that they were are willing to ignore the quantum leap that man could gain from extending his boundaries of sentience beyond mere words?

Man has lorded his use of language over other life forms so jealously that he has imprisoned himself in a cage of words that are constantly straining against their own limitations. There are all kinds of sentience.

The fact that Man has chosen to define intelligence in the most self-serving sort of insecurity that precludes recognition of other forms of intelligence is evidenced by the fact that every time another primate exhibits some supposedly unique human characteristic, (like tool-making, or bargaining, or even trying to hide evidence of one’s own guilt) someone else will reinterpret that definition so as to in some way or another exclude the other primates from our special club.

In truth, our use of language and words has if anything obscured our ability to recognize Understanding unless it is defined by the very words that limit it.

It was unanimously agreed that the next session would involve giving The Knowledge to Frederick. In the case of some kind of meltdown or psychotic episode, tranquilizers would be available to be administered. Chimpanzees possess incredible strength, and on several occasions have savagely attacked, disfigured and even killed humans. As much as Mark and Darcy were inclined to trust Frederick, even they acknowledged that the risks should not be ignored.

It was Darcy that pointed out, for instance that ethically, they should obtain Frederick’s informed consent to take the drug by choice, rather than make the assumption that he even wanted to be subjected to what was admittedly an experimental procedure.

She and Mark agreed to interview Frederick in a way that would allow him to express himself as freely and completely as possible without simply injecting their own prejudices into their interpretations of his answers.

It did not represent an easy task, and they realized that from a strictly scientific standpoint their interpretations would be considered highly suspect.

Then again, if you really want to learn to think outside the box you have to be willing to act outside the box…

’First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain…then there is…’

And so it is with boxes as well.

In so doing, it could be argued that Man had chosen to become The Serpent. Then again, Man has been the one who has despoiled The Garden ever since he was ejected from it.

GRADUATION DAY: ADAM BECOMES THE SERPENT

By the next Saturday, everyone was so excited about Frederick’s impending reception of sentience that Charles and Suki arrived early in the morning to prepare the sanctuary and help Kali make sure everything was in order. After several group sessions, they thought they knew what to expect, and wanted to be prepared for even the most unlikely or unanticipated events.

Kali had been accustomed to being the perfect hostess, and certainly identified with what she perceived as her duties and responsibilities as a minister’s wife, but she too, would be a central player in the impending experiment and everyone wanted to be sure that no one wanted for anything, and that all responsibilities would be shared so as to be kept to a minimum for anyone.

Food and drinks, towels, comfortable seating and lounging, blankets, sheets, pillows, music, visual accompaniment, changes of clothing…virtually nothing was left to the imagination.

Charles had also been working with Mark to attempt to build very small radio transmitters that would allow for group bio-feedback interfaces monitoring even alpha wave production so as to control the progression of lights produced by the Sefirot. Each of them would wear one, even Frederick.

They were smaller than a wristwatch, and Frederick even seemed amused by it, and signed ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ when Darcy had asked him to put it on when they tested it in his natural environment at the Habitat. He was spending so much time on weekends at The Sanctuary that it was soon becoming his second home.

Lilith and Malkira were quite comfortable with his ‘Aunt Darcy’ taking Frederick away for most of the weekends, when he wasn’t ‘working’ as a test-subject/trainer. Darcy was a little disarmed however, when Lilith grabbed her arm and pulled her close to give her a kiss, and then winked at her in what seemed to be a very knowing way….

The research center was surprisingly lax about security regarding Frederick’s whereabouts, but then again, it was doubtful they anticipated any of what was transpiring.

Charles had an old analog two-inch twenty-four track tape recorder that he had used when he built a recording studio years ago. He hardly used it anymore since everything went digital, but it was perfect for documenting vital signs and bio-feedback data for everyone in the group, Digital video cameras were everywhere and all images were stored on a central computer that recorded everything.

Merle had additionally provided for special tranquilizers in case Frederick had a bad reaction to The Knowledge; some were mild, in case he just got a little too excited for his own good, and just in case…there was a very powerful fast-acting but nonetheless relatively safe sedative that was loaded into two dart pistols in case Frederick became a danger to himself or anyone else.

This was not just a lark; everyone took all of this quite seriously despite the fact that they knew that everything they were doing pretty much broke all the rules…of science, religion…or the politics of business.

Ash knew that his mind would not be on his show that night, so he prepped his band to take over the main responsibilities, using a predominantly musical theme and a panel of guest hosts and hostesses who were buddies of his from the music industry.

The theme was aligned around the place modern music played in new-age religion, but Ashe’s program standards and practices were so broad as far as his definition of religion that pretty much everyone was welcome, as long as they had some sort of philosophical premise or belief system.

He worked the ArchAngels overtime Friday getting everything ready, and by late afternoon Saturday, he was helping everyone else prepare. Darcy arrived with Frederick a little past six o’clock to a round of applause by the group, prompting him to bow deeply at the waist and tip his cap.

It was an old ‘boonie’ hat that Charles had given him that looked quite comical; he loved to wear it whenever he went off the Habitat’s premises.

He appeared to understand that he was clearly the star of the show, and loved the attention, but more than that, he had told Mark that he wanted to be ‘like them’ while they were trying to ensure that he was giving his informed consent as to receiving The Knowledge.

The group took their time getting comfortable. They ate a little, had a bit to drink, mostly fruit juice and water and then assembled in a large circle in the living room with the mirrors and other elements arranged as had been done previously. They also tried to see if they could raise some group alpha-wave generation in order to attempt to affect changes in the sequencing of the lights in the Sefirot.

Then they meditated and did some group breathing exercises, which Frederick adjusted to quite effortlessly to the surprise of most of the group except Mark and Darcy.

It was well past eight o’clock by the time Merle handed out the capsules.

The rest of the group was now well-accustomed to the effects and the gradual onset of the drug, and they had taken great care to prepare their minds for the anticipated union of consciousnesses of all of them with Frederick, and Darcy and Mark had their hands full initially keeping up with Frederick’s excited attempts to communicate, until suddenly, they became aware of a new voice amongst their collective mental conversations.

Kali was the first to mentally blurt out “(what a beautiful, sonorous voice he has!…and it sounds so human!…)”

To which Frederick replied “(…are you surprised? Remember, I listen to humans prattle on day and night…but seriously, what you are hearing is more a projection of your own patterns of what you think a thought sounds like…so you create my voice in your own image…after all, Darcy and Mark already told you that all the other primates have been communicating this way since the beginning of time…you humans lost your intuitive and non-verbal skills shortly after The Visitors arrived, many eons ago, when you traded your intuition for what you call reasoning…their actions were what lead to your ascension…despite what you think about evolution.)”

The entire group was stunned. The resulting mental pandemonium of thoughts flying around the room at that moment almost defies description. No one even bothered to try to speak out loud, as Frederick continued.

“(Mankind’s so-called Great leap of Ascension was a created effect that was engineered by The Visitors that came to earth long, long ago. We have told that story to each other, handing it down from generation to generation ever since. You were the result of a very capricious experimental lark by a small group of space travelers who gave you a drug much like what you have given me, which might account for a great deal of what you refer to as your sentience…The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…the forbidden fruit that your biblical legend claimed caused your God to toss you from the Garden of Eden…)”

At this point, the cacophony of mental babbling was so severe that Frederick howled in laughter, sitting down and grabbing the soles of his feet as he rocked back and forth, clearly amused by their astounded bewilderment, but what he told them next made his first revelation pale by comparison.

“(…but the real deal-breaker was that those ancient visitors mated with several of your females from your tribe…and that was how the Mankind Tribe was established…hate to burst your bubble about eons of evolution, but there was a whole lot more to it than that.)”

”(We all have hoped ever since that someday they would come back to give us the same kind of helping hand that they gave you, but the reality of it is that they probably realized that judging on how badly you have wasted your so-called sentience with greed, hubris, violence, breed-prejudice, even racism among your own kind, that they probably decided they had done enough harm already…)”

”(They were a very advanced species…it must have seemed disgusting to even contemplate sexual congress with any of you, but they somehow managed to transcend their revulsion…or maybe it was a fascination for them…to reunite with a primal form of primate such as yourselves…or maybe they were just a bunch of space-perverts…intergalactic hillbilly sheepherders with an aberrant sex drive…who knows? I’m sure they could have artificially inseminated your females if it had all just been a purely scientific experiment…)”

The group remained mesmerized as Frederick continued.

“(Now right about now you would be remiss to not consider that we have all taken a very powerful drug that has already proven to have profound effects on the human consciousness…but nonetheless, how is it that a mute primate can express himself in such an eloquent and complex fashion?…and you would be correct in asking that.)”

“(First of all, the whole relationship between sentience and intelligence is a very slippery slope that has been subject to so many prejudices that you as speaking primates have imposed on every aspect of your perceptions. Also, this being the kind of drug that it is, it has facilitated a kind of translation of your consciousness to mine, and vice-versa…believe me…this blows my mind beyond all my previous expectations of what it might be to be human.)”

“(You have named yourselves ‘Homo Sapiens’ because ‘Sapience’ is ‘The ability to think and act using Knowledge, Experience, Understanding, Common Sense, and Insight, utilizing Unbiased Judgement, Compassion and Experiential Self-Knowledge,’ although ‘Self-Knowledge’ really implies Sentience.)”

“(I was a hybrid of a chimpanzee and a bonobo…as a Bonanzee, as I like to think of myself, I have no peers, no kindred spirits with whom to relate…humans were my heroes, my gods if you will, much like The Visitors were perceived as Gods by your tribe.)”

“(I know how I feel right now…the elation and euphoria of this experience is indescribable…You have to decide whether this whole experience is real, or imaginary, or something else altogether. You wonder if you are not projecting your own unconscious mental processes into what you believe you are perceiving…the fact that we are all having the same simultaneous hallucination, or ideation would tend to dispel your own personal skepticism, but that’s not crap in scientific terms, so you have to ask yourself what is real? What can you trust yourself to believe?)”

With that, Frederick excused himself using sign language and got up to get himself a plate of fresh melon and strawberries after first asking permission.

And this was only the beginning of what was going to prove to be a very long and interesting evening.

TRANSCENDENCE

“I realize that we have seen some very remarkable and sometimes bizarre occurrences in our encounters with this group. As earthbound Humans and one quite remarkable primate, these eight individuals, if not singularly unique, are at the very least quite extraordinary.”

I feel as though these repeated sessions of group consciousness are having its own effect upon me as well. Not what I would describe as a ‘contact high,’ but rather an extremely powerful state of mind. One might be tempted to label it as mass hysteria, and as a participant/observer I cannot rule out the possibility, but in so doing, I would nonetheless state that there may be good reason for embracing credence in the power of such states of mind…”

Raul the Cuban Tree Frog, acting again as our reporter for Intergalactic Geographic is perched upon a screen outside The Sanctuary, headset with boom microphone on head, and script in hand as he narrates his observations.

As you may have suspected from our previous encounters, he is not exactly just your average Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), but in order to gain safe passage in this dimension, he is in precisely the right configuration to best dispatch his assigned mission.

Raul continued. “For one thing, sometime during the onset of this particular session, I began to realize that what I had mistaken for utterances by the individuals involved was perceived in fact within my own head, much like the experiences of the members of the experiment.”

“Upon further consideration of my animal form, I would be inclined to admit that it might indeed tend to give me a predilection for intuitive cognitive processes much like the telepathy or intuition to which Frederick, Mark, and Darcy have alluded as being distinctly animal attributes and abilities. Based upon my own subjective experiences within this context, I would concur.”

As Raul continues his narrative, the other members are finding themselves more and more sexually preoccupied, and since there are no secrets within this group (given their common consciousness of each other’s thoughts), the effect is rapidly intensified.

Who of us has not wished at one point or another to be able to ‘read’ the minds of others? Yet the prospect of one’s own mind being equally transparent to others is not one that most of us would embrace….

It is one thing to be fully understood when we wish to be, but most of us are so addicted to our own deceits, conceits, denials, and self-deceptions that it is highly unlikely that we would be inclined to go down the road of telepathy and intuition once we realized the consequences of navigating a two-way thoroughfare.

One of the more disarming features of their current state of mind is how much their individual senses of smell have become intensified, especially concerning each other’s pheromones. Frederick has always been very high-functioning in this regard, but even he is pleasantly surprised by the enhancement.

As each member finds them self curiously testing the air as they first identify the aroma, then its source, knowing full well that everyone else is not only doing the same, but also aware of what each of the rest of them are doing, they begin to truly embrace the concept of their animal origins.

As self-proclaimed civilized humans, we have been taught to eschew all bodily odor altogether, instead preferring that our genitalia should smell like jasmine, lilacs, spices or even exotic fruits, but deep within our psyches, buried under eons of repression, our animal ancestors instinctively knew that they liked the smell of cocks and cunts…and the ocean…and seafood…and freshly-plowed earth…and rain.

For less evolved individuals, this could have spun out of control rather quickly, but given the fact that seven of the group have been using this drug for several months now together, the customary inhibitions, or conflicts that could have been stress-provoking have been bridged and assuaged…for the most part.

When Frederick suddenly realized that everyone else was also aware of his olfactory perusal of Darcy, Suki, and Kali’s nether regions, he also became aware of the fact that everyone else was doing the same according to their own tastes.

No one was alarmed or offended. In their current state of mind, everything seemed natural and provocatively intriguing. And Frederick was no longer an outsider by virtue of being merely an animal. In their minds, they had already transcended those barriers.

In their minds, they saw themselves just as much animals as they regarded Frederick to be. Just slightly different animal forms, as well as so much more….

With that, Frederick pantomimed blowing Darcy a kiss as he winked at her.

She responded by giggling like a young girl and suddenly removed her panties, which she threw to him. She then arose from her sitting position on the floor and went over to Mark, who was already removing his pants in anticipation. The rest of the group quickly shed their clothes as well.

Merle, Suki and Charles began to peruse and ponder a number of possible combinations of explorations among themselves as Ash and Kali moved together among the other members encouraging and fondling as they went.

Rather surprisingly, Darcy left her short, sheer dress on as she bent over to take Mark into her mouth. Mark was reclining, but propped up slightly on his elbows, with his head tilted back. He moaned softly and lifted his hips just a little each time Darcy took him further into the back of her throat. She began to reach a steady rhythmic bobbing of her head as Mark began to fuck her mouth.

An instant before it happened, Darcy and the rest of the group realized Frederick was about to first smell, and then lick Darcy’s exposed bottom, and then her very wet pussy.

That moment seemed to hang suspended in time for a New York eternity (even though they were still in Florida).

As soon as Darcy realized that she was able to accept this eventuality, she also realized that she was in fact relieved and very aroused by her ability to be able to assimilate the experience, and so was everybody else.

In that moment in time in that particular space, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. All of them were also pondering how it must have been much like this when Man transcended and ascended from his primate ancestry by virtue of those ancient visitors so long ago, during the “Upper Palaeolithic Revolution”, or the so-called Eurasian “Great Leap Forward”.

As Darcy began to moan with pleasure as Frederick gratefully lavished her puanani with the most enthusiastic oral stimulation, Mark began to realize that he was nearly as aroused by watching Frederick perform cunnilingus upon the love of his life as he was by Darcy’s writhing ecstasy as she vigorously took him into her mouth and throat.

By the time Frederick finally mounted Darcy from behind, first gently, almost gingerly and then frantically thrusting his Bonanzee cock as hard and fast as he could into Darcy’s wet, quivering cunt, no one was the least surprised, offended or even uncomfortable.

In their minds, this was an event that was over fifty thousand years in the making.

Only humans even attempt to protract the act of copulation in the least, but as quickly as Frederick managed to achieve orgasm, it was more than sufficiently long and vigorous enough to make Darcy climax violently as she felt Frederick’s throbbing cock spill stream after stream of warm, spurting semen deep into her pussy.

And it somehow seemed like the most natural and beautiful event in over fifty thousand years.

Mark was now quite anxious to fuck Darcy also. Frederick was already wandering around the room, mostly observing the others copulating, and Mark turned Darcy around to also mount her from behind as Frederick had done, but she suddenly began to grind Mark’s cock into her ass as she slowly pushed his rigid prick deep inside her.

After shucking off her dress, she then grabbed Merle as he sauntered over, and began to lick and suck his enormous member, which did not fit at all well into her mouth as she slathered it up and down with her tongue, lips and face. Merle grew hard again in a surprisingly short period of time.

He had not come when he fucked Suki briefly at Charles’ request while he watched, and he badly needed release.

Merle then lay flat on his back and Darcy straddled him as Mark pumped her ass from behind. By the time both men came, she was drenched in sweat and cum. Her pussy was stretched and distended from Merle’s enormous cock and her ass was swollen, gaping and dripping.

By the end of the evening, sometime before dawn, she managed to fuck Ash and Charles as well, while Suki and Kali also took turns with all the men, but Frederick only copulated with Darcy, although he did it again several more times that night with her.

Although Frederick mounted Darcy from behind the first time, The next time, as Darcy lay upon her back, as they prepared to copulate, the air was heavy with anticipation of what was to come.

The first time was as pure animals, the both of them allowing Nature to take over as they rode on waves of polypeptides and hormones into a region of the forbidden, yet eternal quest of curiosity where no action is inherently either sacred or profane. The eternally questioning mind often leads the body into uncharted waters.

Perversity does not exist in the animal kingdom the way that it thrives in the Human Condition.

But now, as Darcy laid there, legs apart, feeling the hair of Frederick’s belly, thighs and chest against her smooth, nearly hairless body, she came to a realization of who Frederick was, rather than what he was.

This strangely familiar being, this state of consciousness that so worshipped her as Goddess was in this moment realizing the culmination of resolution of desires beyond his wildest primate dreams, which were taking place in real time in a state of divine grace and ecstatic union with his own higher power, even beyond her as the Goddess, to experience an understanding of The One, feeling its movement through both him and her.

Now, as Darcy gazed deeply into Frederick’s eyes she witnessed his reflection of the Divine, peering deeply into Frederick’s soul, even as it was now, in this crucial state of flux, so also did Frederick stare into Darcy’s soul in a way he had never imagined before.

For him, it was to bear witness to the Goddess, not to know it on an intellectual level, but viscerally, the only way that one can ever really know anything when it comes to beliefs and faith.

You can’t intellectualize God into existence.

The Knowledge you may experience as you feel the movement, the waves, the ripples and the winds set in motion by the gods and goddesses we know and become as we pass through this level of existence are mere reflections of a divine order that so surpasses our own levels of comprehension as to be unfathomable.

This occult world is not by definition something to be explained with words. The Knowing is enough. If it does not reveal itself to you in a way that you can allow yourself to experience, the chances are that you will explain it away with scientific beliefs based on speculation just as wild and unfounded as any other religion.

Dogma and Doctrine may be replaced by Axioms and Theorems, but both are supported by faith.

Faith is what we believe in the absence of absolute empirical proof.

If you simply believe that what happens today will indicate what will happen tomorrow, or that if two phenomena occur repeatedly together that a relationship exists between them, then your faith is no better than anyone else’s.

As Darcy lay there looking into Frederick’s countenance, she truly wanted this union in a way that was spiritual and that spoke of Majic of an indescribably unselfconscious bliss far beyond any sexual experience, and in so doing to temporarily satiate the eternally questioning mind.

It would be easy to imagine that Darcy looked down from herself to allow Frederick to occupy such personal space with her, but she was already sensing that the primal knowledge she was about to gain from Frederick, who intuitively knew what a mistake Man had made when he traded Reason for Instinct, was just as much a part of the Divine as her own..

In this moment in time, both co-existed.

And it was Good…like at the end of each day of creation.

And as it was happening, the other members of the group knew it too, as their consciousnesses exchanged with each other and their knowledge became as one.

And all the while, the Ancient Ones moved in and around them provoking and enticing the members of the group to a level of sexual ecstasy not seen since the days of the Bacchanal.

And it was Good…very, very good… like the way God said at the end of each day of creation.

Although all the members of the group agreed that there was a distinct cumulative effect that lingered well after the more immediate effects of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil had worn off, the effects it had on Frederick were the most dramatic and lasting.

From that point on, he was truly sentient; not human, but deeply aware of himself, his surroundings and peers in a way that would have been previously unimaginable. His abilities to communicate with the others took a quantum leap that was similarly intensified for all of them, who now managed to communicate intuitively and without words in ways they had never before imagined.

And it was all very, very Good….

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE TELEMARKETERS

Telemarketers are one of the most maligned groups of people in the world…and sometimes, for good reason.

First of all, they practice their craft by way of home invasion via the telephone.

The vast majority of them sell everything from extended vehicle warrantees, long-distance telephone plans, re-financing of debit, new furnaces, new air conditioners, re-roofing, kitchen or bathroom remodeling, mobile cellular service, to schemes that allegedly allow you to buy anything from appliances and power tools to home remodeling supplies at a fraction of their retail cost (neglecting to mention that you have to pay the freight and shipping costs, with no guarantee that any of the vendors you wish to buy from have any such arrangement to sell directly to you, plus the exorbitant annual fees associated with joining their ‘club’).

It was almost twenty years ago that PharmaCorp decided to develop a sales task force to market home delivery of prescription medications as a subsidiary to their pharmaceutical manufacturing company.

Then came the Medicare Part D enrollments of 2006, which was a massive boondoggle for the insurance companies competing for an estimated market of seventy-five million prospective targets to be enrolled in less than forty-five days. Tens of thousands of agents were trained and licensed as healthcare insurance agents for all fifty states to enroll prospective Medicare part D recipients over the telephone.

They made upwards of fifteen thousand dollars in six weeks, only to be faced with going back to selling long distance plans and extended vehicle warranties once the smoke had cleared.

As a general group, telemarketers act as agents for some of the most despicable scams ever devised, and there is little or no true value to what they do, which is essentially to separate people from their money.

They are like trained assassins, who work for the highest bidder, so it is no coincidence that they refer to their intended customer/victims as ‘targets.’

Fifty years ago, most of them would have been ‘traveling salesmen.’

When the real estate market tanked, the industry became flooded with failed mortgage brokers and real estate agents as well as automobile salespersons.

Not all of them are necessarily ‘snake oil salesmen,’ but there comes a time when one must choose between a telephone and a gun just to feed your family.

Their rationalizations are almost endless, and their aspirations are high. Sometimes, they make huge commissions, if they are involved in launching a new program that is as yet untried, or has failed or been met with marginal success at another call center or by a different team.

Once the core group has defined and honed the pitch and the approach, they will hire a boatload of new people, who they will then train, thereby watering down the available market, and knocking the bottom out of their commissions.

There is a paradigm in sales that mandates that less than 20 percent of the sales force will make more than 80 percent of the commissions. It has nothing to do with fairness or the ability to climb the ladder by proving your worth. It is a purposeful manipulation of basic motivations and drives, and on a purely Machiavellian level it is the most efficient and successful way to exploit your sales force.

The idea is to give the impression to the main body of the sales force that they could do just as well as the top performers, if only they worked a little harder, or were better at their job, while the elite members are treated like gods, to be emulated and worshipped.

Little other than personal favoritism initially determines who is favored and who is not. Talent and personality may enter into the equation to some extent, but once the choices are made, unless you screw up and do something to alienate yourself to Management, it makes little difference. Why? Well it goes something like this:

Most clients know that only a certain percentage of their potential customers are viable, qualified targets, but the sales force is tasked with going through the motions of giving presentations to everyone targeted.

Given the choice between a level playing field with a resultant $45 thousand dollar average yearly salary, with top earners getting less than ten thousand dollars more than the average, or presenting the possibility of being one of the fortunate, and earning one hundred thousand dollars per year, just in commissions, plus four to six hundred per week in hourly wages, with everyone else getting only about $36 thousand, the logic is to create as wide a margin as possible for the top salaries so as to create the impression that if they only worked a little harder, or handled their after-call work a little faster, that they too could be a top dog, rather than one of the doomed.

Thereby, the doomed work very hard to eke out marginal commissions from marginal possibilities leaving the privileged to be free to grab all the low-hanging fruit with ease. The first question that comes to most people’s minds is to wonder how anyone can control who gets what opportunities. It goes like this:

There is a feature of most computer-controlled automated dialing systems that allows for a practice called ‘skill weighting,’ meaning that a select group of ‘closers’ get access to the wealthiest, or most vulnerable targets, or the ones who have never been called before, people who are new to the offering, never cancelled the service, never declined the product, etc.

Also, the difference between being next in line for the first available call, as opposed to waiting your turn as the dialer marches through the list of assigned positions makes a huge difference, especially on inbound callers.

It quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as to who are the top dogs and who are the underdogs.

It is no accident or euphemism that sales call centers are called ‘boiler rooms.’ The pressure is intense. The time constraints are totally unreasonable, and no one is such a superstar as to be immune from having their jobs and success dangled over their heads like the proverbial carrot on the string hanging from the stick in front of the jackass that continues to plod along relentlessly, just a hairsbreadth away from its goal.

Heart disease, stroke, diabetes and clinical depression run rampant among the sales force due to a combination of stress, too much coffee and too many cigarettes, sitting for too long without regular opportunities to get up and walk away from their desk, and poor diet due to a limited ability to access nutritious meals in the (unpaid) half-hour allotted for meal breaks.

Most modern call centers now track every second of every aspect of your workday. How many ‘personal non-work related’ (‘bio-breaks’), counseling time, meeting time, time spent getting back online after the meeting, after-call work (the amount of time it takes to record the results of the call and get back online), ‘system problems’ if your computer, or the mainframe, or some aspect of the program you are utilizing fails or slows down, including the amount of time it takes for you to re-boot or initialize your system…all of it is recorded, and reported and printed out and presented to you on a weekly basis.

No one is immune.

Middle management is prohibited from fraternizing with the rank-and-file, even the top performers, and are generally given such ridiculous workloads (as exempt salaried employees, they are the new wave of indentured servants) that they have little time for friends or family anyway.

They have a gun to their heads to extract as much work from their charges and are just as likely to be terminated as the other employees are. This tends to bring out a very mean-spirited neurosis very quickly in even the most well-adjusted supervisor.

Years ago, factory workers who were subjected to repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome were finally recognized as a legitimate work-related health insurance claim. 

Until it actually cost the employers money, they paid no attention. Workman’s Compensation claims finally got their attentions long enough to result in attempts to prevent the injuries by modifying their methods to more worker-friendly conditions.

A very good case could be made for repetitive thought injuries being documented amongst telemarketers. The data is certainly there to support the claim. The victims are everywhere you look amongst any telephone sales force, but PharmaCorp’s casualties, including suicides were becoming difficult to ignore.

Had they been test subjects, it would have been obvious, but no one was paying much attention or tracking the data, except to suppress it.

Although human resource departments are quick to reassure the employees that because it is so costly to advertise, recruit, train and hire new employees, they are a valued asset, in truth the longer they stay, the more benefits they accrue and use, and the more their salaries rise, the more of a liability they represent, especially in terms of matching 401K pensions and healthcare benefits, considering that the longer they work, the sicker they become.

Workplace employee surveys began to show an alarming degree of mistrust, dissatisfaction, resentment and outright hostility despite the fact that most employees did not believe the surveys to be confidential or without some risk of retaliation.

An online internet survey of adversarial workplaces placed PharmaCorp so high on the list of worst places to work in the country that even their board of directors began to look for band-aids to cover up the problem so as to create the impression that they actually gave a shit.

It was like giving cough drops to tuberculosis patients.

The real shock came as a result of the ‘Talking Monkeys Project.’ More and more of the Chimpanzee test subjects began to develop gastric ulcers, heart conditions, and suffer cerebral vascular attacks (‘strokes’).

Because the chimps returned to their natural environments and families at the end of their workday, alarmingly higher and higher numbers of incidents involving violence among other chimps, including mates and their offspring were being recorded and documented.

Keep in mind, the entire project was unknown to almost all of the employees in the sales force, and the use of the chimps as ‘feeder-qualifiers’ was considered to be an experiment conducted by one of PharmaCorp’s subsidiary research companies to test the cognitive, learning and language skills of primates.

It just happened to be convenient to use their sales and marketing operations as their test lab.

The stress-induced physiological effects and behavioral dysfunctions began to become so prevalent that the handlers of the chimpanzees began to express concern and alarm.

Management’s answer to the growing dilemma was to strongly discourage written reports being generated in favor of unrecorded ‘discussion forums’ and ‘feedback opportunities’ in dialogues between the Staff and Management.

Frederick was such a high-performing test subject that he was quickly utilized as a liaison between the trainers, handlers, and the chimps themselves, so he was not subject to the rigorous demands placed on the chimps on a long-term basis, and therefore had not suffered the mental and physiological damage that his comrades faced.

Mark was in charge of the American Sign Language training of all the chimps, including Frederick. Darcy was assigned to Lilith, Malkira, and Frederick as a family group.

Each handler was responsible for one family group, including all offspring. Frederick’s superstar status within the research group brought many perks, bonuses and unofficial accolades to both Mark and Darcy, but because of the secrecy surrounding Frederick’s very existence, they were prohibited from publishing any of the results.

As was stated before, even a massive conglomerate corporation like PharmaCorp is answerable to ‘other concerns’ known to only the most highly-placed corporate officers who are subject to being played like marionettes if the right strings are pulled by the right individuals.

Off in the distance, those other ’interested parties’ were monitoring the results of the entire ‘Talking Monkeys Project’ for entirely different reasons. Fortunately (and somewhat amazingly), this necessity of distancing helped preclude detection of Mark, Darcy, and Frederick’s extra-curricular off-campus activities.

And that was especially fortunate on this special weekend when Frederick became truly sentient by virtue of administration of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

EVERY HUNGRY WOMAN DREAMS OF THE WHIPPING POST

Ash was more ‘fired up’ than usual when he wrote his next sermon, and even the ArchAngels were somewhat taken aback by not only the title and theme of that Friday’s rehearsal, but the sheer fervency with which he delivered it was unparalleled for a mere run-through.

He had even written a new song that had all the earmarks of becoming a standard theme for the band, and he told them it would be done as a gospel-style sing-along like they almost always did with ‘I Must be the Luckiest Man (or Woman, or Child…) in the World.’

This was to be the theme of the sermon:

“When I say ‘Every Hungry Woman Dreams of the Whipping Post; Every Slave Craves their Collar’ most people envision BDSM, dungeons and other manifestations of the Kink/Fet community, but I am talking about a completely different form of bondage or slavery that is taking place every day in this country.

“Most of us are victims of it ourselves in one way or another, and as I have told you so often before, I cannot tell you exactly what you need to do about it…that has got to be your choice. I am here to council you and to encourage you to find answers for yourselves.”

“Today, my primary goal is to open your eyes and your minds.”

“Those who lack involvement, commitment, validation, recognition or a sense of belonging will embrace almost anything that will distract them from their loneliness and isolation…the Great Existential Void…the same loneliness that makes a woman think she cannot escape an abusive relationship…or that keeps someone from kicking an addiction like drugs or alcohol…people who invent unsolvable problems or refuse to face the consequences of the solutions or accept the dogma and doctrine of anyone else, rather than search for meaning or purpose themselves.”

“This is evidenced by the rising popularity of gang membership among impoverished inner-city youths alienated by generations of ignorance and desperation as well as the affluent suburban middle-class bored by the banality and shallow crass materialism of their self-absorbed parents.”

“Since the dawn of Man, there have been monarchs and there have been serfs to do their bidding.”

“Recall the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the first primate grabs a thigh bone and crushes the skull of his opponent. Necessity may be the mother of invention of tools, but adversity is the mother of invention of weapons.”

“Witness the first ruler of his tribe. As adversity is confronted by imagination, ingenuity and courage, a King is spawned.”

“On the one hand, leadership is thrust upon (s)he who chooses to take his or her rightful place at the head of the table, but on the other hand, the crown may become a yoke, or a monster may be borne of this ascension to power.”

“Time passes, as feudal lords preside over serfs and fiefdoms. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation…” to support the grandeur that can only exist within the divine right of kings.”

“Meanwhile, in another part of the village, a sorcerer, a medicine man, a witch, or other practitioner of the cunning ways of knowledge conjures and brews up another way to ascend to a position of power either within or outside of the community.”

“We have a king, and a priest(ess), but the circle is far from complete without the advisors, attorneys,  generals, gangsters, tax collectors, treasurers, medicine men, legislators, law enforcement,  judges and bankers that await their entrance to the stage, all of whom are looking for their own opportunity to grab whatever portion they can acquire of the general wealth that exists within the community.”

“To assume wealth is the only power would be naïve, but in one way or another, either wealth follows power, or power follows wealth.”

“Their stock in trade is built upon the fear and paranoia that they disseminate in the self-fulfilling prophesies that they mutually create and support.”

“Eons and millennia have passed, and as history records it, the grand stories borne of the lives of great men and women have become the legends of our heritages, yet little has changed in the dynamic between the Haves and the Have-nots.”

“An iconic leader requires a court and necessary support and infrastructure to be provided by those who are either born or bound to serve.”

“After the Dark Ages, came the birth of the Middle Class, merchants, artisans, craftsmen and scientists who managed to rise above mere servitude to a lord. The Middle Class grew with the passage of time, and so did their wealth, but it has never rivaled the wealth of those whose riches are increased by what they own rather than by what they do, make or perform.”

“Wherever there is wealth, there will be those who will try to separate those who have it from their wealth. Charlatans, con artists, burglars, armed robbers, pickpockets, prostitutes, lightening rod salesmen and rainmakers come to mind easily, but the real threat to the general population is more insidious in the way that wide sweeping economic redistribution has attempted to enslave the modern public until they are mere indentured servants who only think they are free.”

“There was a long dark period in the world’s history when entire races or populations of a particular tribe or region were held as captives forced to perform every manner of service to some other ruling tribe.”

“This is a travesty of inestimable sorrow and injustice that has run throughout the history of the world. The very concept that one privileged society could rationalize enslaving another to be treated, bought, sold and owned like chattel property seems barbaric, cruel and unjustifiable today despite the fact that the same effect has been created within our own society in such a way as to mesmerize today’s unfortunates into embracing and defending the very system that enslaves them.”

“Governments do it with taxes, unnatural forms of control of commerce to benefit the privileged and wars that serve no purpose other than to stifle rational discourse, circumvent civil rights and liberties, and make multinational corporations even more wealthy and powerful.”

“A little perceived prosperity is good, but the glut of wealth of the Great American Dream of the fifties and early sixties that allowed parents to send so many of their children to real colleges and universities in search of knowledge and enlightenment led to the discontent and social unrest of the late sixties that empowered a new generation that stopped an unjustifiable war and challenged the paradigms of social norms everywhere.”

“The government knows better than to ever let that happen again anytime soon.”

“A nation of smart people is a good thing, but a nation of enlightened citizens is a liability to the truly corrupt. They require a certain level of threat from some boogeyman like Communism or Al-Qaeda to distract the public sufficiently to keep them from questioning too much of anything.”

“Churches do it with endless tithing, donations and pleas for more money to do “good works” that mostly involve making the Church wealthier while the poor starve in slums, all the while decreeing that it is a mortal sin to attempt to limit procreation amongst people too poor to feed themselves already and stifling a woman’s right to maintain control over her own body.”

“The fact is that in addition to preaching doctrines of hatred of pleasure that would deny so many the simple pursuit of happiness or the ways of power and majik or any form of rational discourse or intellectual freedom by labeling it as heresy, they also would pit one superstition against the other to distract them even further from finding or pursuing true enlightenment.”

“Religion is no longer the ‘opiate of the people’…it is more like the syringe… and television is the heroin.”

“Engineered economic depressions have occurred twice in slightly less than one hundred years due to the insatiable greed of the privileged ruling and/or ownership classes of the world for the purpose of accomplishing widespread economic redistribution. Both times it backfired on many who helped participate in it, but the real owners and rulers managed to stay intact and eventually prosper from it.”

“But by far, the most insidious of all of the schemes to enslave the world now comes from a collusion of lawmakers, attorneys, doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, and the so-called ‘management companies’ and ‘program administrators’ who manipulate the entire system despite obvious conflicts of interest and ethics that go unaddressed by either the legislative or judicial branches of this country who are allegedly charged with the protection of its citizens.”

“Participating Networks and ‘Retail Refill Allowances’ dictated by ‘program administrators’ who directly profit from these conflicts of interest (including ownership of their own pharmacies) and the monopolizations that they create not only stifle free market economic competition, but also ensure that they do it with impunity.”

“Most people take far too much medication. This is because their doctors fail to address the fact that each medication has additional ‘Side effects.’ and ‘untoward reactions’ and it is far easier (and more profitable) to prescribe additional medications to control the undesirable effects rather than to find better palliative measures.”

“That’s right… ‘palliative measures’…something to mask or alleviate the signs and symptoms temporarily…there are virtually only a handful of drugs that can claim to actually ‘cure’ anything, and in far too many cases there is at best only scant evidence to support the premise that they really improve the overall quality of life of those who take them, given the side effects inherent in all of them.”

“We have been brainwashed by the AMA to believe that we must fight disease with drugs, rather than to promote wellness in the first place, and the healthcare insurance industry insures that this misconception remains unchallenged.”

“That is why we are more likely to refer to healthcare professionals as medical professionals…because our mental preoccupation with drugs eclipses our understanding of health.”

“After a certain point, instead of Life Extension, we simply prolong Death…for a huge profit.”

“From the ‘Gomer Gardens’ of intensive care units to the nursing homes and restorative centers that farm the elderly and chronically ill like vegetables, the healthcare industry is effectively strip-mining the aged and infirm for every dollar that can be sucked from the country’s social welfare programs, paid for by the working middle class in taxes.”

“If a fraction of the cost of pharmaceutical research was spent for determining the true causes and prevention of disease instead of marketing even more medically questionable medications, the health of the world might actually improve.”

“Our obsession with cholesterol for instance, flies in the face of well-documented research that concludes that cholesterol levels are independent of the prevention of heart attack in the absence of other inflammatory processes.”

“In the last few years, even the television advertisements have been forced to disclaim any proven relationship between lower cholesterol levels and decreased cardiac risk, but you have to know where to look for it in the ads or you will miss it entirely.”

“Not to mention that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID’s) themselves can trigger asthma or liver disease and kidney failure, or that steroidal drugs can cause a resurgence of varicella virus (as either Shingles, or Herpes) thereby requiring treatment with anti-viral agents or that glucocorticosteroids are also implicated in the degeneration of bone and cartilage, skin integrity, and heart disease.”

“Anti-depressants are now as irresponsibly and indiscriminately prescribed as antibiotics were in the fifties and sixties. The indiscriminate and irresponsible prescribing of antibiotics created MRSA and other ‘super bacteria’ that have become so antibiotic resistant that the only cure is almost as dangerous as the disease.”

“Depression and anxiety are frequently the dysfunctional sibling offspring of modern society, and the drugs that are used to treat either of them can trigger the onset of the other, although this is rarely ever definitively addressed by psychological healthcare professionals.”

“If you stop to think for a moment, it makes perfect sense…anxiety springs from the conflict created within the mind to attempt to find meaning or purpose in what appears to be a senseless existence and depression is the natural outcome of the overwhelming hopelessness of the “poison thought” of recognition of the sorrow of the human condition.”

“Anti-depressants (especially the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) have a marked propensity for causing anxiety reactions, and anxiolytic medications are notorious for inducing depression.”

“And there has yet to be discovered a drug that can treat inadequate parenting. Granted, there is much evidence to indicate that many of the food additives to which the young are subjected may be implicated in the geometric and disproportional rise in hyperactivity and attention deficit disorders diagnosed in this country, but you only have to look around you to see lazy, self-absorbed, selfish parents everywhere who lack the compassion or understanding to recognize or acknowledge the commitment and effort required to responsibly raise their children and who seek a quick fix instead.”

“Most psychiatrists merely write prescriptions and no longer council patients, preferring to push the responsibility off on less trained individuals who all too frequently work in an independent vacuum, rather than in conjunction with each other. Less time spent with more patients resulting in higher profits is the prime motivation.”

“The net sum result is that because all of the involved parties are free to overcharge each other for everything only to pass it onto the patient/victims of their unbridled greed, it is only possible due to the ability to have it paid for by insurance.”

“The insurance industry is rivaled only by pharmaceutical manufacturers, the oil industry and defense industry contractors for sheer wealth, and in fact, insurance companies own a large portion of many of the other companies and industries in America.”

“The Affordable Healthcare Reform Act is now responsible for promoting insurance that routinely costs as much as one thousand dollars per month per family with a five to ten thousand dollar deductible.”

“That means twelve to seventeen thousand dollars up front just to be eligible for the so-called “benefits” despite widespread denials of many medications that had been routinely covered for many years prior, even denying coverage for certain brands of insulin or test strips.”

“Generic medications that cost less than twenty dollars retail out-of-pocket last year now often cost eighty dollars or more as of January 1st, 2014.”

“Worst of all, the private insurance companies offering commercial insurance are following the lead set by the HRA policies, using the Affordable Healthcare Reform Act as an excuse to further increase their return on investment with widespread profiteering not justified by their actual cost.”

“When it comes to abridging your rights and liberties, as well as the quality of your life, everything is incremental, insidious and unrelenting. The Patriot Act and the formation of the NSA are the new bastions of the Fourth Reich.”

“What makes you think healthcare is going to be any different?”

“This is why all truly great gangsters and criminals aspire to ‘go legitimate’…it not only involves less risk, but they are generally free to utilize the same unbridled and ruthless practices of their past in the pursuit of wealth and power as long as they hire enough attorneys and buy off enough legislators to sufficiently disguise their corrupt methods.”

“I used to joke about my fear that the government was trying to take over the country, but got tired of having to explain what I meant to people who did not understand the definition of a republic…but in truth, my real fear is of those who pull the strings of the marionette that we have allowed them to make of our government.”

“As long as people would prefer to take a pill than to take responsibility for their diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional health, stress, and parenting skills, insurance and pharmaceutical companies will enslave them.”

“Everywhere you look, people work too hard for too little for someone else under tremendous soul-killing stress, grateful for the ‘privilege’ of being allowed to work overtime to afford designer clothing, jewelry, and electronic gadgets, talking on smartphones that are more intelligent than they are while they drive overpriced, almost disposable cars stuck in gridlocked traffic aspiring to live in pretentious neighborhoods in lavish but shabbily constructed homes they can’t really afford all the while consuming more and more, obsessed with owning everything they are taught to covet by the ridiculous and vapid television shows that program them to believe that “reality” shows are their only reality.”

“When you look back on your life and ask yourself ‘Is that all I did?’ will you be satisfied?”

“Most of us are born naked and screaming in ignorance and will die alone in despair, but everything in between is your own choice if you dare to exercise your options and look for different paradigms, or better still think outside all the other paradigms entirely.

“If you let yourself be brainwashed into believing that there are no other alternatives to the lives your parents lived, or what your neighbors covet you will never know. It may have ‘all been done before.’ but not by you….”

“One (wo)man’s meat is another (wo)man’s poison.

One (wo)man’s ceiling is another (wo)man’s floor.

One (wo)man’s mate is another (wo)man’s person.

One (wo)man’s princess is another (wo)man’s whore.

One (wo)man’s home is another (wo)man’s prison.

One (wo)man’s excitement is another (wo)man’s bore.

One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.

One (wo)man’s possessions

may become their own obsession

that eventually possess them

and enslaves them evermore.”

 “CEREBRAL TUNNEL SYNDROME”…WTF?

When Frederick returned to work, he soon became aware that he had not been listening very well. With human trainers training him how to train chimps for the Talking Monkey Project he had become all mouth and no ears, and now it was painfully obvious to him, since his consciousness had been raised by way of The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

(…Damn!…how he hated that name! …even though to him, the “Talking Monkeys” were the Humans, as per the biblical references regarding the “War in Heaven” and the Angel Gabriel’s epithets for Mankind.)

He suddenly went from feeling lighter than air to being deeply burdened by the sorrows of his fellow primates. Granted, most of his previous contact with them involved one-way communications because he hadn’t taken the time to consider that any of them had anything to tell him, telepathically or otherwise.

The other chimps and bonobos seemed to sense the change in Frederick, and quickly began to reach out to him once they realized he was their liaison to the top primate…Man.

All the professionals in all the human resource departments in the world could not have learned in weeks of extensive interviews with countless subjects what Frederick divined in a few minutes each with any of his peers.

They no longer exhibited any enthusiasm or playfulness. They seemed dull-witted and slow. Their responses as far as their training or performance exams showed only slightly less improvement according to the trainers, but even they had commented on how truly unhappy the chimps and bonobos appeared to be, and the repressed data about the violence and other behavioral problems in their natural habitat was no longer something that could simply be ignored.

It was as if all of their vitality and energy was focused solely on the endless repetitions of their assigned stimulus-response-mediated behaviors, which they quickly learned.

Further mental stimulation of the primates was not a priority, and they were beyond just being bored. This was also way beyond simple monotony, because all of these primates had been selected for their intelligence and learning skills, which were no longer being challenged.

Repetitive Motion Injuries have long been recognized as a very real and documented risk in certain occupations, but repetitive thought or stress injuries to the brain have never been considered.

It was postulated that the endless repetitions of identical responses to similar stimuli, the effect is for other engrams and neurological conduction pathways to be displaced, and eventually be diminished to such an extent as to cause memory loss regarding any items not directly related to their workplace functions.

It you overstimulate a subject for an entire workday to the extent that their abilities to respond or even show interests in non-workplace ‘activities of daily living’ the subjects experience Depression, Ahedonism, Memory Loss, and signs and symptoms of Early-Onset Dementia, as well as the inclination or ability to generate sufficient enthusiasm to even resist the gradual erosion of their personalities and identities.

Many occupations will address ‘burn out’ but they do little other than lip-service. There does not exist the kind of standardization or controls in the human workplace that are present in research.

Some workers possess better coping skills than others do. Outside stressors, hobbies, friends, and family issues vary greatly within any specific occupation, and these items tend to mask the effects.

Because the chimps’ behaviors generally mimicked human workplace environments, and because at the end of each day, they returned to their natural environments, which themselves mimicked human home environments and social order, this project had the potential to give a glimpse into the effects of a particular type of workplace environment upon a very standardized group of test subjects.

With Frederick’s new-found level of sentience came the burden of trying to identify what it was that made him so uncomfortable. He did not yet possess the reasoning skills to establish a cause and effect relationship.

He just knew that his fellow primates were very, very unhappy, but none of them knew specifically why, and neither did he, but he had already become tuned-in enough to recognized that the trainers were also aware of it on a different level, although no one had begun to connect the dots.

He reached out to Mark and Darcy, who agreed with his concern, but something was missing in their analysis. When Mark and Darcy spoke with Merle about their concerns, they came to an interesting question that proved to be the missing key.

Mark and Darcy were unable to explain what could drive the chimps and bonobos to push themselves so hard as to get to this state in the first place. It’s just not in their nature to seek achievement or recognition, and they were not subject to the greed to make commission like their human counterparts.

Most Chimpanzee research has been just that…research, not a long-range occupation consisting of endless repetitions of minimally challenging tasks. There were no new stimuli. Nothing to provoke their curiosity or ingenuity. Nothing to distinguish one day from the next.

Their only reward was a manufactured food pellet that was allegedly comprised mostly of fruits and other flavorings they enjoyed, plus some vitamins and a few brain-stimulating nutrients that humans often use to sharpen their wits.

Merle was the first to question the content of the pellets, and asked for a few samples to analyze.

What he discovered shocked them all beyond belief.

Apparently, the designers of the project anticipated that the chimps and bonobos would only work for so long once it became boring and monotonous; unlike their human counterparts, who would do anything for money…especially more money, so the enticements of a few tasty pellets would be minimal…unless there was something more to the pellets.

Merle’s analysis indicated the presence of a very short-acting variation of Adderall (‘mixed amphetamine salts’) that were highly addictive…suddenly the ‘motivation’ was obvious. The better that they performed, the more pellets they received.

Thinking two steps ahead, Merle then secured the special vitamins and brain nutrients that the working primates received upon completion of their day. This proved to be especially ingenious; among the usual and customary ingredients, there was a mixture of sleep-inducing hypnotics that helped ensure that they rested at the end of the day. These were also addictive, and resembled alprazolam in terms of the clinical effects.

Devoid of the human societal addictions to wealth, position and power, the primates required a physical addiction to push themselves to mental and physical ruin the way mankind has done for eons.

Not surprisingly, many Humans now resort to similar chemical interventions, just to attempt to cope with their physical and emotional overload within their workplace by choice.

This new revelation was huge, but it would be difficult, if not impossible to address, since the entire project was cloaked in so much secrecy in the first place…and Merle was not even authorized to be involved at all.

Frederick’s comprehension of any of this was limited. As has been stated before, sentience and intelligence have a very limited correlation to each other. Sometimes, it even seems as if there is an inverse proportional relationship between intellectualization and true understanding.

It was probably better that he did not really understand what was being done, but if they tried to hide or disguise their findings, he would undoubtedly sense their deceit.

They soon realized that this was a dilemma that would have to be addressed openly amongst the group. Frederick was now one of them. What concerned him was now a concern for the group. In the pursuit of higher consciousness, they had sought the insight of a being outside of their closed human society.

They all believed that there was a purpose in doing so, and had already been given a glimpse of their own origins vis-à-vis the so-called Descent of Man in terms of how one tribe of primates suddenly achieved sentience beyond the grasp of all the others, thanks to Frederick’s incantation of an age-old chimpanzee legend.

In addition, they appeared to have stumbled onto an awareness of a previously unidentified brain injury that may have been manifesting itself in various forms to various degrees in humans for decades, depending upon the occupation.

In that respect, telemarketers represented a sort of specialized subset of conditions and conditioning conducive to isolating the nature of the injury, almost like a laboratory experiment. The problem is that telemarketers are so generally reviled and despised that even PETA would not be as likely to feel compassion for them as they would for a room full of lab rats.

It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of what is inhumane. Whether it be what we do to animals or to each other, only humans can be capable of inhumanity. When confronted with the spectacle of animal cruelty, most humans feel compassion, outrage, or pity, but when it comes to telemarketers most people feel only schadenfreude.

THE DAWN OF THE SON OF MAN

The next time the group assembled to partake of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was mutually agreed that the primary avenue (at least for tonight) for accessing the ancient ones and crossing the abyss should not be sexual, despite the unbridled success they had previously achieved.

It is easy to mistaken a path for the way, or the way for the destination.

The more that the group experienced The Knowledge, the wider the parameters of purpose of their Vision Quest became.

Frederick had opened the door to Man’s comprehension of what he had abandoned when he traded Instinct for Reason. The group, by way of The Knowledge was witnessing the expansion of Frederick’s sentience in terms of increasing his comprehension and reasoning capabilities in much the same way that Man had done during the Great Eurasian Leap Forward, or Upper Paleolithic Revolution, more than fifty thousand years ago.

Although Man had abandoned his closest cousins shortly afterward with increasing arrogance and disdain for his origins (largely as a bi-product of religion and politics), as the eons passed his preoccupation with words largely blinded him to other cognitive processes and forms of knowledge.

Ever since Darwin, two distinctly divided camps had formed in terms of acknowledgement of sentience within the animal kingdom, depending upon the parameters of the definitions set by either one’s agenda, both of which are at their worst clouded by emotion, religion, politics and other manifestations of delusional substitutes for rational consideration.

At the farthest extreme, are those who maintain that if it is alive, it is sentient, using only the lowest possible common denominator as its threshold. At the other end of the spectrum are those who believe that by definition, only Man can ever be considered to possess sentience.

What is most interesting about the position of the latter group is that as animal research has alternately either discovered previously unknown behaviors, or the animals themselves (especially the primates) have evolved, whether it is from exposure to man or by their own means, man has repeatedly been forced to raise the bar in terms of his definitions of sentience to ensure that only Man is recognized as being worthy of membership in their exclusive club.

First came the discovery of the Honeybee Dance used to tell other members of the hive the type of flower, the direction, and the distance, (thereby implying language capacities), followed years later by the initial experiments in teaching chimpanzees American Sign Language.

Also, the research of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey established that primates adopt orphans, utilize group parenting of their young, conduct funerals, practice deceptions, negotiate deals, and hide their guilt, as well as chimpanzees’ expressions of joy manifested in the practice referred to as the Rain Dance prompted by stimuli as esoteric as a beautiful sunset.

Recognition of the manipulation of natural objects within their environment to constitute tool-making, as opposed to mere tool use further necessitated re-evaluating what it was that supposedly made man so special as regards sentience.

One such distinction was that it has been noted that as regards language, although primates may appear to construct simple sentences as declarative statements, there is little to support evidence of primates asking questions, or most especially, although there has been some expressions involving Who?, What?, or When?, there is no record of a primate questioning Why?.

It may be that the major gap between lower primate and great ape comprehension skills and Man’s intelligence would be that although virtually all living things respond to stimulus/response-mediated behavior modification, it may be that only Man recognizes a link between Cause and Effect, thereby necessitating the question Why?.

Somewhere along the continuum of intelligence vs. sentience comes the acknowledgement of emotion by some animals that would appear to be derived from feelings rather than simple so-called instincts that may arise from purely biochemically determined responses.

A case in point might be sighted by the way birds will sit on their eggs in order to hatch them. Their apparent devotion to the task is actually more likely to be the result of the bird’s localized loss of feathers, accompanied by inflammation of their lower abdomens, prompting them to sit on the eggs because they are smooth (and more soothing than the ground or the interior of a nest) and help absorb the heat generated by the inflammation. It does not explain what prompts them to feed their young, however.

Animals may fight to the death over food, territory or a mate, exhibiting considerable ferocity that could be interpreted as anger, but there is little evidence that one animal is prompted to dislike or be offended by personality traits or points of view of one of their fellow species the way humans are so inclined to do.

Even Humans are notoriously suspect in mistaking what they interpret to be Love (as opposed to Lust) by the evidence of sexual desire. Similarly, Fear may well be distinctly emotional, where Intimidation may not. Anxiety, especially long-term anticipation is a more human emotion. Emotions are a slippery slope at best, and differentiating between what actually constitutes an emotional response as opposed to instinctive behavior may not be the best determinant of sentience.

As the group began to settle in for another evening of enlightenment and illumination, the increased non-verbal awareness of the human members allowed them to experience the widening of Frederick’s sentience in terms of self-awareness, for instance.

Each of the members’ own human voice was replicated by the thoughts they received from each other, but since Frederick had no audible voice in the nominally real world, it was particularly amusing to everyone else what a sonorous, well-modulated deep voice Frederick projected to his human counterparts, and although there was no way to record or document what he sounded like to each of them, they all were in agreement about their descriptions of his voice as they heard it in their minds.

Keep in mind, that although there was no way to record what each of them heard in their mind, the content of what they heard was also consistently verifiable as being identical.

As much as each of them was inclined to attempt to remain scientifically grounded and objective, their ultimate goal was not science, and once again, as Ash was quick to remind them, the operant principle of the willing suspension of disbelief allowed them to bridge the gaps between Science and Spirituality.

The key was to recognize when what they wanted to believe clashed with what they observed and experienced. It’s one thing to follow your faith, which is what you choose to believe in the absence of empirical proof and another to simply blindly accept someone else’s make-believe version of God, Heaven, Hell, or Redemption because you lack the imagination, courage, or ambition to attempt to discover and experience what is revealed to you, and when what you believe conflicts with what you experience, to have the courage and objectivity to re-evaluate what it is that you do believe.

So when Frederick suddenly (telepathically) blurted out “What do you think is making the other chimps and bonobos so sad?” everyone in the room audibly gasped.

Tears of joy flowed down Darcy’s cheeks as Frederick suddenly realized that he had taken his first real quantum leap across the abyss, and that there was no turning back from this point on, even if he had wanted to, because once the box was opened, there was no way everything could ever be put back in again.

It would be easier to put the smoke back in the cigarette. 

Everyone in the room was so moved by the realization of what had just happened that they all rushed over to Frederick to either hug, or kiss him, or simply shake his hand to welcome him into this new world he had just discovered.

This was going to be a very long and interesting night indeed.

SENTIENCE: EMOTIONS AND SENSES

As anyone who has ever used psychedelic, hallucinogenic, or psychoactive drugs can tell you, there is a real potential for a roller-coaster ride of emotions unlike that which any hormonal teenager has even experienced.

Sometimes the subtlest of images or thoughts can provoke seemingly boundless joy, sadness, fear, or even rage. It is a matter of interpretation of previous experiences and the imprints they leave in your memory banks.

The associations we make between an image of a baby and our own emotional or ‘gut reactions’ to that image can be associated with one’s own childhood, or an unplanned pregnancy that ended in abortion or adoption, our own children, or the desire to bear or raise children yet to be born, for instance.

The image of an elderly person could be associatively interpreted as a grandparent, a parent long gone, a hospital patient, or our own fear of the aging process as well as our impending date with our own mortality.

A dog or cat could trigger either loving memories of childhood pets, or a fear of animals with images of unprovoked attacks, fleas, ticks, parasites and allergic reactions.

A flower can represent love, nature, fertility, or even Peace.

To some, a picture of some natural environment or landscape could be associated with tranquility, beauty, serenity and sanctuary, or to another, it may cause anxiety, or trigger feelings of loneliness and disorientation, or a fear of uncivilized and wild environments, or threatening preoccupations with danger, hardship, and deprivation.

For some, life is a picnic replete with sunshine, laughter, friendship and the Movable Feast of our youthful experiences and associations, while for others it is spoiled by ants, rain, mosquitos, sunburn, Labor Day gridlock and disappointment.

At least half of this picnic is determined by what we bring to it.

Animals are also imprinted by the associations of memories and emotions built upon repetitions of stimulus-response mediated experiences, but to suddenly be given access to interpretations or meanings or insight as a conscious understanding of Why or How all these elements fit together is more than even most humans can divine.

This perception of the connectivity of ourselves, our actions, and our relationship to the universe and whatever purpose or meanings that we associate with our existence as a form of insight or enlightenment can be either a marvelous gift or an ominous and overwhelming preoccupation depending upon the associations and interpretations we conjure within our minds.

The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil works like a hybrid of psychedelic, and empathogen/entactogen psychoactive drugs that have been known to suddenly thrust their users into a state of mind and being that mimics the effects of years of meditation and devout study in a matter of minutes.

What may have seemed fixed and immutable may now appear ambiguous or deceptive as easily as the Unknowable or Occult may appear to be clear and even obvious.

This is potentially dangerous for some. Many mystics and savants believe this is too sudden and easy as well as a quick shortcut to intoxicating madness not unlike putting a teenager behind the wheel of a powerful racing automobile.

With effort, practice, and dedication comes the maturity and emotional strength necessary to control almost limitless power no matter what the source.

This quantum leap across the abyss of consciousness and perception was becoming emotionally overwhelming to Frederick.

Darcy had anticipated this eventuality, which she had discussed with Kali, and with Merle’s assistance had prepared a combination of concentrated and refined THC, as well as several other botanicals and herbs that Merle had often used before in his Shamanistic practices that he believed had the potential to help tranquilize and calm Frederick.

The vaporizer was already up to temperature and Frederick quickly signed “Monkey see, monkey do” about the same time that they perceived his voice in their heads laughing and repeating the phrase several times as he began to inhale the mixture, following the lead set by their example as he alternately laughed hysterically, wept, gasped, screamed and hyperventilated while experiencing the rush of emotions and insights that threatened to overwhelm him.

In a matter of minutes he was giggling and benignly shaking his head in awe, absent-mindedly touching himself as he began to settle into a calm acceptance of the simple beauty of his existence in a way that most humans might not be so easily disposed to accomplish, and suddenly decided he wanted to eat some fruit, so he got up and helped himself. It did not go unnoticed that he did not summarily ask permission to do so, as would have been his usual modus.

When he returned, he sat down and then signed “It’s as simple and obvious as the nose on my face.” although neither his attempts to sign the exact words nor the others’ telepathic perception of his intended meaning was immediately clear to the rest of the group.

But the moment that they did comprehend it, they realized that they too had suddenly taken a similar but different leap across the abyss from their side to his. Meanings and intentions of complex and abstract thought do not have to be spelled out letter by letter in the meager linear definitions of Words that have so limited Man’s comprehensive and communicative methods for the last fifty thousand years.

Thanks to The Knowledge of Good and Evil, Feelings, Emotions and all Transcendental thoughts and concepts did not require to be translated into a codified set of symbols, words and definitions that are so self-limiting as to be stultifying and arbitrary by comparison to anyone who acquires the ability to transmit or interpret them in their actual form as ideas, thoughts, images and feelings.

In this respect, Art and Music accomplish what words cannot.

There is considerable disagreement among many Spiritualists as to The Transmission of Dharma. In terms of empirical Knowledge, it is highly unlikely, but in terms of an Understanding of the Transcendent, there may be some validity, especially if you have experienced it for yourself.

This meant that they could not only communicate fluently with each other, but it also proved to be a valuable aid in reading the minds and intents of less evolved humans quite transparently, as all the skill-sets of the group increased geometrically in the days that followed, which were verified by the members of the group in countless double-blind studies and tests during weeks of verification.

But right now, this minute that seemed to hang suspended in air like a giant dirigible even more volatile than the Hindenburg, the others…the humans were still taking baby-steps interpreting Fredericks thoughts and their meanings.

Darcy then asked and signed “What is?”

“Happiness, Understanding, Fearlessness…and Love” was his answer.

As he communicated his thoughts to the group, they each noticed that he did indeed wear a reflection of that understanding like a countenance upon his face that shone like golden sunlight at dawn.

THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW…

The next expression to cross Frederick’s face was indignation, followed by a rather perplexed look that bloomed into a grin so wide he could have eaten a banana sideways.

Keep in mind that the group’s consciousness was increasing at a geometric rate, and as they became of one mind Frederick’s telepathic instincts and intuition as well as the group’s sentience were reinforcing each other to a point where waves of common consciousness passed over all of them like breakers on the beach.

Darcy and Mark were the ones who seemed to lead each new level of understanding as it passed either from Frederick to the group, or vice-versa.

Even though it was not really necessary, Darcy blurted out: “He’s right, you know…we can’t expect him to withhold what we know about what PharmaCorp is doing to the participants in the (Chimp) ‘Feeder Project’…and we can’t expect them to fully understand unless….”

“…Now wait a minute…we took a huge risk even bringing Frederick into the circle…” Mark was already anticipating where this was headed, and Merle was the next to interject.

“Look at the initial trauma that Frederick experienced from ‘The Knowledge’. We don’t have the luxury of being able to administer the naturopathic anxiolytics on-site while they are going through the changes that it induces…it would be irresponsible to administer it to them there, and we sure as hell can’t sneak them all off even one at a time…”

“But Frederick could prepare them for what was coming telepathically…no one at work would even suspect…and as he did, he could slip them a few sub-clinical doses to see how well they responded one at a time. Remember, what it took to raise our levels of understanding might be much less for a chimp or a bonobo…”

“Let alone a Bonanzee…” chimed in Frederick.

“They already have instinct and intuition and Frederick could give them an idea of what to expect before we dropped the bomb,” Mark added.

Merle, as usual, was already thinking three steps ahead pharmacologically, and pointed out…”I suppose we could administer concentrated oral doses of the anxiolytics I prepared for vaporization that could be made to look like the reward pellets they already get. Chances are it will affect their performances as far as work is concerned, so we have to figure out a way to mask the effects.

“Do you realize what effect this is going to have on the entire project?” Charles was not at all adverse to the idea, but there was no escaping the fact that no primate in his or her right mind (himself included) would willingly accept what was being done to it without some kind of incentive.

“As it was, they had to get the chimps addicted to drugs just to keep them working once the initial curiosity wore off…what do we have to offer them to keep going, once we open their minds?”

“Freedom…and a new life after the revolution….” Frederick paused.

“Revolution?!?!”  was the general outburst that followed.

“We all have an obligation…for the sake of my people as well as yours….”

“I share your sympathy for your co-workers,”  Charles conceded “…they were forced into the situation they are in through no choice of their own, much like the African slaves, and are no better equipped to deal with the culture-shock that will resulted initially…”

“I am reluctantly in favor of the enlightenment of the chimps…as long as we do not put ourselves at any real risk…but I doubt that Humanity is ready for some general expansion of their collectively mean/greedy/stupid/lazy un-consciousness…I have earned my cynicism, and paid dearly for the lessons I’ve had forced upon me…”

Kali was the next to add her own opinion. When she spoke out, which was not all that often she generally got everyone’s full attention, because her remarks were usually measured and thoughtful.

“What can we offer them? I mean, none of us are all that keen on the lives into which we were born…Civilization, Science, and Modern Life in general are their own form of slavery…without the sentience to make an informed decision, they are only enslaved by their addiction to drugs. With sentience, they face an even more sinister form of slavery. PharmaCorp is not likely to send them all back to Africa, and most of them would not fare well in the wilds of their ancestors….”

“So let them make (their) own informed decisions…” Suki intoned. “The purity of (their) aboriginal past (is) long gone…the box (has been) opened…it cannot be undone…(the) choices they make may even teach us a thing or two.”

“This has to be done very slowly and carefully and with the utmost caution and discretion…this could cost us more than just our careers…trust me, it could be worth all our lives…there is very big money riding on the Chimp Project.” Mark cautioned.

“At the Habitat, it is not even referred to as The Feeder Project. I think some of their security specialists are rogue CIA spooks… probably subcontractors from Blacktwater…or Academi, retired Special Forces mostly, possibly with ties to SAIC, Leidos, or something like it. I am beginning to believe that the ‘Chimp Feeder Project’ is just a ruse to lay the groundwork for something much more sinister, given the circumstances.”

“I didn’t want to bring it up tonight, but we have to be more careful than ever about even bringing Frederick here…Darcy has made a pretty good cover story of socializing him and trying to avoid the pitfalls that the original projects from the seventies ran into, but we still have to be careful.”

Ash had been silent for most of the discussion, lost in thoughts he did not choose to project to the others. Although most of their telepathic inclinations tended to be reflexive, he undoubtedly had the most control over the process, given his years of practice with Zen meditation. What he had to offer showed insight and objectivity.

“We are ourselves neophytes as it pertains to this process of self-realization and sentience. Fredericks’ experiences are even more limited and the overall or long-term effects on any of us are an unknown quotient. We have taken many liberties as regards scientific method, and rounded out a few corners in the process,”

“I am entirely in favor of utilizing our intuition, instincts, and feelings to guide us through phases of this experiment where conventional methods would have failed, but I do not believe that we can afford to let our emotions rule our decisions and actions.”

“Before we set anything in motion that cannot be stopped or taken back, we need to reflect on the best way to go about whatever course of action we decide to take as a group, preferably unanimously.”

Darcy was the next to add “We do not need to rush to action. Mark and I will be in constant contact with Frederick throughout the workday. What is already in place can be tolerated as status quo for now, even as sad and repugnant as it seems to us, given our full knowledge of the situation, but keep in mind that the chimps are not fully self-aware yet but given Frederick’s abilities to slowly and carefully enlighten and prepare them for whatever the next step shall be, we just need to proceed slowly and carefully. Any rush to judgment  or action could be cruel to the chimps regardless of our best intentions.”

“Especially you, my hirsute lover…come over and give Aunt Darcy a big hug and a kiss…just no tongue, OK? You have a huge responsibility on your shoulders, and you’re kind of new to all this…” With that Darcy extended her arms to Frederick as she puckered her lips.

“OK, but I not a baby anymore you know…I don’t even feel much like a Bonanzee any more….”

“Well, first of all none of us, including you really knows what a Bonanzee really is, as far as what you are going to become, and second, you’re certainly not a baby, judging from that boner you just sprung on me…just from a hug and a kiss? You may have something else to teach us all yet, but try to exercise a little control, OK? Especially at the lab….”

That was the first time any of the others in the group had seen Frederick blush.

THE FINE ART OF DECEPTION

“Effective Leadership requires knowing what lies to tell, and when to tell them.”-

I Ching

And sometimes just withholding the truth is not much different from telling a lie…..

Keep in mind that among chimps and bonobos, the verbal audible utterances that they make to communicate are largely what would be called reflexive in as much as they will for instance make a particular sound if one of them finds a bunch of bananas in spite of the fact that in so doing, every other chimp within earshot will hear it and come running.

This does not mean that all chimps are completely altruistic, (even though they do adopt the orphans of their tribe) or that they cannot practice deception, as it has been noted that chimps will in fact attempt to hide their guilt, or the evidence of it if they violate some tribal rule. Some even steal from each other.

They also barter and make deals with each other and the female bonobos are especially adept in using sex as a bargaining agent.

The real question that night was if Frederick, with all his newfound sentience would be capable of withholding the full extent of his knowledge of their addiction from the other chimps in the project while still attempting to prepare them for their next great leap forward.

Frederick was admittedly quite different from the other chimps and bonobos, and initially had been placed in a forced exile with his parents, one a chimp and the other a bonobo, largely as a protective measure for the three of them, and also as part of a controlled experiment to find out how he would be socialized with two heterogeneous parents.

Malkira, his father was a very large magnificent male chimp specimen, and Frederick grew so large during gestation that his sheer size alone required caesarian section to deliver him two weeks early, otherwise Lilith his smaller (‘Pigmy Chimp’) bonobo mother would have died in labor.

The results of a scientifically augmented diet, vitamins and other nutritional enhancements, protection from parasites and a well-disciplined exercise regimen in his controlled environment ensured that Frederick had grown much larger than even his father had.

From his mother, he gained a more cunning, complex and innovative disposition. Although gentle and loving by nature, he had shown himself to be quite ferocious and dominant if necessary when challenged by other more naturally aggressive male chimps once he had grown to maturity.

He had grown up somewhat ostracized by virtue of his isolation, and had bonded and identified more closely with humans, especially Darcy and Mark more than he did with his fellow primates with the exception of his two parents, with whom he was what human child psychologists would refer to as ‘securely attached.’

Because of his sheer size and strength as well as his remarkable intelligence and charm, he was a natural born leader to the other chimps and bonobos as the project developed.

His newfound sentience pulled him in several directions simultaneously. Although he had developed a somewhat condescending revulsion toward the other chimps and bonobos in the habitat and felt slightly detached or even alienated from them, he dearly loved his parents who were unique in the way they had adapted their social order within their tribe of three that was his family.

He now was overcome by compassion and empathy for the predicament of his fellow primates and felt what would have been described as noblesse oblige if he was human.

At this point, he was so enthralled with a certain degree of envy, or more accurately hero-worship of humans that he did not yet see the pitfalls of Mankind’s self-proclaimed civilization that had ossified so insidiously since the day they first traded Instinct for Reason.

His contacts with humans were predominantly limited to Mark and Darcy at the Habitat, plus the other members of the group at The Home for Wayward Souls and the Sanctuary.

He had become a regular at the Sunday Services and very much enjoyed Ash’s sermons, which Mark and Darcy additionally signed and explained to him, but his real love was the music of the ArchAngels, as well as the fact that they encouraged Darcy and Frederick to lead the dancing that often resulted as the rest of the congregation learned to imitate the Bandaloop Dance.

It wasn’t until Ash first explained to Frederick that the sadness and lack of vitality that he had witnessed in his fellow great apes was not just their addiction to the drugs they had been given, but rather was a miniature model for the sad ‘lives of quiet desperation’ that so typified the joyless plight of Modern Man.

The relentless pursuit of any addiction to money, status, power, prestige, envy, jealousy, or possessions could only be duplicated in chimps and bonobos by physically addicting them to drugs in order to drive them in the same sort of desperate self-destructive pursuits that had enslaved Man.

“Be careful what you wish for…” cautioned Kali. “Most humans are filled with fear and guilt and believe in a god that although he claims to love them, would condemn them to a life of eternal damnation in hell just for disobeying him, or not believing in him.”

“They are obsessed with sex, but are taught to feel guilt and shame over it, and their religion tries to make them believe that it is sinful to enjoy it”

“We are not at all like most humans,” she added.

“Then I will try to be more like you, Dark Mother.” Frederick had been fascinated by the meaning of Kali’s name as the protector of all children in the Vedic tradition.

“Just as in the same way, we aspire to learn from you, my child” said Kali as she stroked his ears playfully. “…that we may learn to speak without a sound…the world before words, where everything is just like this.”

Ash then decided to show Frederick an episode of Tarzan, King of the Apes. He explained how Tarzan’s plight was much like his. Tarzan had been raised in the wilds by great apes and other members of the jungle kingdom, and felt little affinity to Mankind. Although he was married to a human named Jane, the only other member of their family was a chimpanzee named Cheetah.

But more significantly, Tarzan had risen as a king within his own domain. He did not have to answer to any corporate bosses or supervisors. He did not have quotas to meet or quarterly reports to which he would have been responsible. He had no mortgage or rent to pay, or taxes to be filed.

To his post WWII audience of movie and television viewers he wielded power and control over his own destiny in a way the president of the United States would have envied. Every action he performed was directly connected with his own survival and pursuit of happiness.

He did not have to work for someone else at a job doing something that removed him from any direct connection he had with his own life, only to be paid just enough to keep him coming back day after day in order to buy or pay for more objects that were a mere substitute for a real life, yet not enough to escape his addiction to money until he was almost dead.

In the nineteen fifties of Tarzan’s stardom, the average male worked until he was sixty-five years of age, retired, and then died within eighteen months of his retirement. Those were the actuarials upon which the life insurance companies operated their entire business, based upon the mortality figures of their day.

It would seem that few average citizens realized those facts; otherwise why would they have driven themselves to such a joyless and sad finale to conclude their brief existences?

Now, retirees face living long enough to see their retirements shrink to the poverty level due to runaway inflation. They can look forward to outliving their savings, their vitality, their sexuality, their continence, and even their memories.

When the life they once knew becomes so foreign to them that they cannot even relate to their forced imprisonment of geriatric care, they can anticipate being kept alive even longer while the healthcare system strips away whatever revenues can be extracted in their names as they are farmed like vegetables in the ‘Gomer Gardens’ of intensive care units and nursing and restorative care centers; comatose, incontinent, delirious, confused, frightened or hallucinating until whatever money or life force that was left is gone, riddled with bedsores until they rot to death.

Better to drop dead in the middle of a dead run than to die slowly, sitting in a pile of your own shit.

Next he showed Frederick an episode of Married with Children and pointed out how even American comedy depicts the plight of modern Mankind as pathetic and mindlessly cluttered with overpriced poorly designed, shabbily produced consumer goods, decorated in bad taste and cohabited by a shallow, disrespectful, dissatisfied wife and unmotivated, misdirected delinquent children.

So Ash posed just one question to Frederick; a rhetorical one that would not and could not be answered immediately, but would have its day of reckoning; if Frederick was ever able to answer it, he would become more truly sentient than most humans.

The question Ash posed was “What do you really want?”

 “You have the power to become the king of your assembled peers. Where will you lead them? What often resembles autonomy is just a different form of slavery to addictions to power, control and envy of possessions that will eventually possess you; they are mere mirages of true enlightenment or freedom.”

“You are no longer a mere animal, but your ascension is the result of outside interference, much like the ascent of Man. You have the opportunity to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Man since he was first ejected from the Garden.”

“We can offer advice and support, but we cannot choose for you. Hopefully your choices will be better than the ones we have made as a species. What we ourselves are attempting here in The Home for Wayward Souls is to find how to live in the best of both worlds, perhaps like Tarzan.”

The general consensus was that if there was a way to embrace and adopt Science and Technology, but somehow live independently, or even off the grid, then that would be their intended course.

Ironically, the only ones who seemed to be able to do that were the very wealthy, and that in itself represented its own set of traps and pitfalls.

For now, Frederick agreed it would be best to simply help teach his fellows how to cope with the madness into which they had been thrust, and give them hope and time to adapt so as to prepare for whatever would be the next step.

By that time, the first rays of dawn were streaming in through the dense foliage that surrounded the Sanctuary.

AN UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENT

The next Monday, a new director was appointed to oversee the operations at the Habitat. The announcement was unexpected. H. Duane Fellows, PhD, DVM, et al, had been the director since before the Habitat had been converted from a tourist attraction to a research facility.

He was a world-renowned zoologist, a licensed veterinarian, and had published dozens of ground-breaking papers on primate research including an analysis of the schism that occurred during the Upper Neolithic Revolution and the Great Eurasian Leap Forward when man suddenly branched away from the other primates as a true Hominid.

He and Mark had been very close friends from the beginning, and both were deeply involved with the development of linguistic skills of man as he evolved, while the apes appeared to have remained largely non-verbal.

It has been noted that primates do make reflexive utterances and in many ways their lack of articulately spoken words to convey meaning more resembles expressive aphasia, not as a result of damage to the brain, but by virtue of certain portions of the brain, possibly the medial insular cortex not having developed the way Man’s brain has.

The great apes appear to have good development of Broca’s area, and show relatively good auditory verbal comprehension, as well as the ability to mirror certain sounds, but have difficulty in articulation of the words as in nonfluent aphasia or more commonly expressive aphasia.

They both postulated that since the great apes lack of speech was not the result of either brain damage or an inability to comprehend, that a combination of neurological drug and speech stimulation therapies might enable primates to affect a form of speech not unlike the speech of the deaf.

They may have structural deficiencies in their mouth, tongue or vocal cords that may necessitate attempting to mimic certain sounds, unlike the difficulties raised in the hearing impaired who just do not know how the subtler aspects of certain forms of speech actually sound.

Dr. Fellows was unaware of the occult aspects of any activities of The Group regarding Fredericks’ outings however, and would have been vehemently opposed to the administration of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

He was greatly amused by the way Darcy and Mark had introduced him to the services at the Sanctuary. The three of them had been quite instrumental in ensuring that family groups were allowed to be established and maintained during the Chimp Project in an effort to avoid the disastrous results in earlier experiments involving sign language.

Since the difficulties encountered in the past were related to sexual frustration that increased as they matured, they established that family played an important part in using the chimps for experiments well into adulthood, possibly uncovering even greater advances.

In addition, although the chimps and bonobos still maintained a tribal order within their groups, each family was afforded a substantial habitat that generally resembled a human home as living quarters, devoid of glass windows or doors, which they enthusiastically adopted, often choosing to decorate each individual environment with additional leaves, branches and other foliage.

All parties concerned shared their consternation over the fact that Frederick did not show any sexual interest in either Chimpanzee or Bonobo females…or males, for that matter. There were few females in the village that did not express interest in Frederick, but he was immune to their charms.

Dr. Fellows postulated that perhaps in much the same way that Catholic priests sublimate their sexual desires with religiosity it may be that Frederick was finding his needs fulfilled with the sermons, music, and especially the dancing.

The fact that chimps will perform what has been called a Rain Dance to express joy or an appreciation of beauty (like for instance, a spectacular sunset) was common knowledge among primate researchers. What impressed Dr. Fellows the most was how Frederick had adopted the Bandaloop Dance.

He did not initially know that it had been taught to him by Darcy, and although he was somewhat let down by the knowledge, thinking that he had found a link between primates and early shamanistic practices, he was also fascinated by the fact that Frederick had begun teaching it to the other chimps who were not in contact with Darcy.

Dr. H. Duane Fellows dismissal from The Habitat for Primate Research was perfunctory and typically corporate, stating that they all wished him well in his future pursuits of research, allowing him more time to spend with family.

The shock and indignation that was expressed by the rest of the faculty was typical, and just as useless. Dr. Fellows was unusually tight-lipped when questioned, but he hinted to Mark that it was “in his best interests” to keep his opinions, as well as his cards close to his chest, at least for now, and advised Mark to do the same.

When a new regime rolls in anyone who expresses the least displeasure in the change will see their own heads roll as well until only the toadies remain.

Sebastian Galbraith Lodge was to be Dr. Fellows’ replacement. His credentials were largely centered on administrative and engineering degrees, and had little if any experience in animal research.

He came to The Habitat for Primate Research by way of Leidos (now SAIC a spin-off corporation decreed in 2013) with high recommendations as an ‘administrator.’

Depending on how you read their history, Leidos was either spun off of SAIC, or vise-versa. Leidos was the original parent company and previously used the name SAIC and retains the use of the name Science Applications International despite the fact that currently the most visible corporation is SAIC.

Leidos has projected earnings of over seven billion dollars and employs twenty-three thousand employees. Leidos is listed as an American defense company that provides scientific, engineering, systems integration, and technical services.

Leidos works extensively with the United States Department of Defense,  the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Intelligence Community, and National Security Agency,( as well as other U.S. government civil agencies and selected commercial markets).

Because The Habitat was owned by PharmaCorp, they were informed that the decision came ‘from the highest levels’ of Management.

One of Sebastian Galbraith Lodge’s first orders was to lock down the entire Habitat for Primate Research to the public. Initially this would have meant that Frederick would no longer be allowed off-campus either, but after strenuous objections from Mark and Darcy, he agreed to allow him to attend the Sunday services providing he be accompanied by a security specialist personally chosen by Lodge.

What did not occur to either Mark, Darcy or the other members of the group was that Ash, Kali and The Home for Wayward Souls were already more than just a blip on Lodge’s radar. A devout Christian and an avid follower of the tenants of the ‘Moral Majority,’ everything about Ash’s “so-called religious beliefs” constituted nothing short of blasphemy, sacrilege, debauchery, and fornication operating under the guise of Polyamory, subverting the protections offered to “legitimate religious pursuits” from interference by The State.

It is frightening to imagine to what lengths the self-righteous will go to impugn the rights of free men in the name of God.

Adaptation

For several weeks the group had to suffer the deprivation of their newest member from their weekly sessions, but it now assured that all the members came every Sunday to the services at The Home for Wayward Souls.

They were all quite comfortable taking The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil about forty minutes before they arrived at the Sanctuary, including Frederick.

So in addition to still communicating non-verbally together each weekend, they managed to share some well-focused quality time together, led by Ash and the ArchAngels.

Trust in the fact that every word and every nuance was primarily directed to the assembled members of the group, especially Frederick, and everyone in the group could hear him in their own minds as clearly as if he was whispering in their ears.

Charles and Mark had constructed a larger, brighter version of the Sefirot to remain up near the alter, and the consciousness-raising effects just from the alpha-wave generation was awe-inspiring.

Their chosen escort was a very professional-looking man if your chosen profession is intimidation. He had young, kind and surprisingly soft features that were well-trained to retain ‘Military Deportment’ to attempt to hide or disguise his moods or state of mind.

His sheer size alone was the most intimidating thing about him. About six-foot two and very broad and well-muscled; one of those fellows who has to have all their suits specially tailored.

He looked like a body-builder in a grey pin-stripe and wore his sunglasses constantly.

His name was Stan Linderman; neither he nor Sebastian Lodge ever discussed Stan’s background, training, or previous work experience.

Mark was simply told “He is very well-qualified and skilled in his field, and I believe he suits the needs of the Corporation perfectly.”

Mark could not help noticing that Sebastian Galbraith Lodge never used the name ‘The ‘Habitat’ or even ‘The Habitat for Primate Research” except in letters he occasionally dictated to vendors or contractors who performed services for The Habitat, simply because it was the only way to identify the place in a way they would recognize. All other verbal references, for instance were simply ‘The needs and purposes of the Corporation,’ ‘The rules and regulations of the Corporation,’ etc.

His second memo to the staff was to announce that, effective immediately all rules and regulations pertaining to the operation and business of the Corporation were subject to his review and approval, and would be final unless rescinded or modified by him.

All appeals were to be directed to the Corporate Board, although he highly recommended against it.

Stan was pleasant and courteous to both Mark and Darcy, and allowed them full control of Frederick, who seemed to intimidate Stan just enough that Frederick noticed it first, which he signed to Darcy, although Mark heard his thoughts also.

They both realized that Stan did not know ASL, at least yet, and so as to avoid tension or suspicion, Darcy always gave very perfunctory translations of their signed conversations with the understanding that all America Sign Language communications were being performed as a ruse to distract Stan while they had separate running conversations with each other telepathically, with only a few almost reflexive gestures, more out of habit than anything.

While the weeks passed with regular attendance at the services, Frederick was now going out among the other chimps and bonobos at night after work, in their habitats. It did not arouse any suspicions by the security staff, since they were too preoccupied with overseeing everything and everyone who came in or out of the facility.

All of the security staff were new to the Habitat, and would not have thought this to be unusual, since the worker primates still maintained a very gregarious, congenial tribal/communal pattern of socialization.

One at a time, he was selectively “enlightening” his fellows. It did turn out that what would have been ‘sub-clinical’ doses for humans, based on mcg/kg used for the rest of the group was quite adequate as a threshold dose for the chimps ad bonobos.

And surprisingly enough, because the primates are not subject to the kind of neurotic socialization of humans, they more easily accepted the enhanced awareness and sentience with little culture shock, although the other naturopathic herbal ingredients did have a relaxing and calming effect.

Frederick had become their messiah. He told them to keep taking the reward pellets at work and do their very best to perform well so as not to raise any suspicions. He admitted he did not have all the answers, but trusted the Group at the Sanctuary, and promised they would stay in communication to keep them abreast of their plans to liberate them, as they developed.

True to form, the biggest liability came in the form of humor and independent thinking on the part of the chimps and bonobos, but most of the other staff members simply interpreted it as rebelliousness rather than an indication of the indomitability of the spirit that comes as a result of sentience.

Even truly intelligent people can be real knuckle-draggers when it comes to spiritual enlightenment, or humor, but fortunately not often.

All in all, they were adapting fairly well to the new changes and challenges…with one exception…Darcy was over two weeks late. She’d had her tubes tied over seven years ago, and could practically set her wristwatch by her cycle. She didn’t mention it to Mark at first, but when he asked her, she furrowed her eyebrows and just shook her head.

“No worries, Darlin’…that is just about one hundred percent impossible, and I haven’t seen any Star in the East, if you catch my drift.”

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

“It wouldn’t be your usual kind of miracle…and no virgin birth…that’s for sure! But how?…how could this be?”…she winced as she looked down at the test stick… “this is sure as hell one time that ‘Positive’ does not involve anything positive for me…I’m certain of that…at least I think I am. Damn! The timing is all wrong for this!…Shit!”

She suddenly envisioned some dewy-eyed young Ms. Thing holding a piece of plastic in her piss-stream and seeing a happy face appear instead of a plus sign…and jumping for joy, shouting something like ‘Yippee!’

But not her…not Darcy Sallye, who vowed years ago that she was not going to be tied to some man who would ruin her life with heartbreak, disappointment, and betrayal or drunkenness and violence by virtue of an accidental union of egg and sperm.

Granted, that was years before she met Mark… and about three months after she got out of rehab.

She decided then and there that she would break the cycle of the chains that threatened to bind her. All the women in her family had been enslaved by bad choices made in a careless moment of lust and passion that fizzled out and faded away a lot sooner than the obligations that remained.

Redneck men…even the best of them, are famous for saying stupid shit like ‘Hey! I pay my child support every month!…’ like it’s some declaration of honor, instead of something you’re supposed to do in the first place, even if they’re not around for the kids they sired with you because they’re too busy with the new wife’s kids…(whether they’re even his or not)…and especially if he thinks they are.

Darcy had never been in love before.

Sometimes she might have been in lust, especially with the dangerous ones…she had a taste for bad boys, but as soon as she recognized it for what it was, she would do something really mean or vindictive first before they got the chance to get the upper hand….

Sometimes it might have even been a strong ‘like’ depending on how long she’d been too lonely, but it was usually just a case of already knowing she was just settling for what came along, and she was damned if she was going to be stuck…trapped…with no escape and too many regrets.

But now…the first time in years she’d even given it a thought, here she was in love…deeply in love with Mark…but…she couldn’t expect him to raise it as his…without…well, a DNA test for starters…after all, she had fucked all the men in the group on more than one occasion…with Mark’s blessing and encouragement in fact.

This was new ground for her…to be this free and so much in love at the same time. It was exhilarating and empowering to the point of intoxication….but suddenly, she was faced with a serious dose of reality in the middle of the wildest fantasy she had ever known.

“Jesus!” she thought… “What if it was Charles’ or Ash’s…or Merle’s?” Charles and Ash were both married…could she…should she…just get rid of it…him?…her?

If Merle was the father, it would probably be more than Mark could take…she could live with it, but not Mark…and she understood why…Mark and Merle had been so close for so long…like brothers…but Mark always felt like he was the runner-up…second place…the one the girls settled for if they couldn’t get Merle, or if they couldn’t keep Merle (and no one but Kali could do that).

Mark was just a little too submissive, and sensitive and understanding for his own good. Women would use him as a doormat if they thought they could get away with it…and they often had. He had learned that all too often, they mistook his compassion and understanding for weakness, which taught him to keep his cards close to his chest and women at arms’ length.

Darcy was the first woman Mark had trusted enough to let her get close enough to occasionally dominate him…(just enough to act out a few of her own kinks about men).

He was an alpha-male to the outside world in all other aspects…he seemed to crave a sort of surrender to a woman like Darcy because he trusted her enough to believe she would never hurt him intentionally, even though they both feared she would one day, in spite of her best intentions….

Part of her wanted to just get rid of ’it’…while it was still just an ‘it’…like it never happened…but something made her feel like there was this miraculous quality to the situation that refused to be ignored…the sperm that wouldn’t take no for an answer…the egg that refused to wither unrequited…what kind of destiny was being played out?

She didn’t know for sure, but those feelings made her question her judgment.

“Dammit!” Her tubes had been tied for years for Christ’s sake! They only ‘precautions’ she had ever taken were just like the label said…‘for the prevention of disease only…’.

She hated rubbers because she felt like they insulated her from that spark she loved to feel from skin on skin…and skin in skin…and that warm flush from the flood…when the river overflowed its banks…full of electricity and life, just squirming inside her…gushing in and flowing out; a salt tide that flowed as if pulled by the moon herself and so copious she could almost taste it sometimes….

The term galvanic skin response refers to a measurable quantity of electric current registered during polygraph tests that fluctuates according to the emotions of the test subject…(or the level of passion between two lovers) that was insulated by latex, and like rubber gloves on a jewel thief’s hands, left no trace to even prove anyone had even been there.

As soon as she felt safe enough to go bareback, she usually did, which was not really all that often until…well, since she fell in love with Mark.

Every time she looked at a prick with a condom stretched over it, all she could think of was a bank robber with a pair of panty-hose pulled over his head, and it was all she could do not to laugh.

She quickly learned that men are not well-disposed to laughter at the sight of ‘the mighty sword’ because most of them are so insecure that they end up taking the whole experience much too seriously to just relax and have fun.

They were usually so preoccupied with the self-imagined act of her conquest …yeah…as if….

If men had any idea how they looked to women when they were all puffed up with their exaggerated image of self-importance and control they might just learn to pay attention long enough to understand women a little better and really become much better lovers than they could imagine.

Ever since she and Mark were reasonably assured that neither one of them was going to give either of them Aids and die, those ski masks of sex had become a thing of the past…it never had anything to do with birth control in the first place…she thought she was safe…“Now what?!?!”

She told Mark she was going to buy a test kit to find out, so he would be expecting an answer soon, but she wasn’t really sure she knew what to expect from him.

She really didn’t know how she felt, and that would undoubtedly be his first question…what did she want to do? Men ask that question because it sounds like they really want to know what the woman wants, but the problem is that it just avoids answering the question for themselves in the first place.

A baby? She wasn’t getting any younger, so if she was ever going to become a mother, this might be her only chance, given the fact that this pregnancy wasn’t even supposed to have occurred in the first place.

She knew it would change her life forever…was Mark ready for marriage? Was she even ready for marriage? Did they really even need to get married? Was she ready for Motherhood?

Frederick had brought out a strong maternal instinct in her over the years, and she had thought that it was enough…tried to convince herself it was…at least until now.

Now the opportunity had forced itself into the equation and demanded a decision that she thought she was never going to have to make. Whatever choice she made, it ruled out another entire set of possibilities irrevocably, like a great fork in the road of her life.

What if she never got the chance to make this decision again? Freedom might mean emptiness in retrospect and a lifetime of regret, but commitment could just as easily equate to enslavement to a different kind of regret…even resentment.

Mark had gone out to the store to get something to fix for dinner. When she heard the front door close as he came back, she took a deep breath.

Time for the moment of truth.

Fish, Cut Bait, or Swim

Darcy rushed out of the bathroom to meet Mark. She held the tester behind her back. The minute she saw his face, she knew something was drastically wrong, and she slid it into the back pocket of her jeans.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I just got a call from the Habitat…PharmaCorp is sub-contracting us out to Leidos…until further notice. All animal research will be under direct orders from Sebastian G. Lodge…but that’s not all….”

“What’s got you so upset Darlin’? Is there more to it than just that?

“Effective tomorrow, half of the chimps in the Feeder Project will be sent off-campus for three weeks to another ‘undisclosed’ facility for ‘further training of a different nature’…they will be taken away from their families and homes without so much as a ‘how do you do?’ and we can’t do a fucking thing about it.”

“What about Frederick?”

“Well, fortunately, he is supposed to act as the ‘liaison’ to prepare the ones that are leaving, and to introduce the new replacements.”

“Replacements? Permanent ones?”

“I don’t think so, I get the impression they plan on having us train even more chimps on a regular basis, but that asshole Lodge just smiles and puts a finger to his lips, winks smugly at me, and says… ‘Need to know only…no offense, but that’s how we will be operating from now on…I advise you not to take it too personally, but the operations of the Corporation are going to have to be more disciplined than you are probably accustomed, and I would strongly suggest you get used to it and adapt to the changes.”

‘It will be one of the primary factors in deciding who remains once the operation is fully up to speed.’ He has made it very clear that no one is irreplaceable and that the Corporation will not tolerate any ‘Prima Donnas’…period!”

“Fuck! How is Frederick? Does he know already?”

“I was the one that had to break the news to him…that’s why I was so late. I was afraid you would be worried….”

“I’m OK…how is Frederick taking all this?”

“If I didn’t know better, I would swear he sees this as a challenge…he couldn’t wait to go over and start preparing them for the changes. They all look up to him and trust him completely. He is the official king of the tribe as far as they are all concerned, and he treats them like his extended family.”

“Remember when he watched ‘The Godfather’ with us…and it took so long to find a way to sign it so he would understand? Well, now he uses that sign for himself. He laughed hysterically after he did it, but I think it appeals to him.”

“Still…he must be stressed about it.”

“He is, but I gave him a handful of magic pellets to hand out…he is planning a tribal meeting tonight with the assembled multitude so they can get it all sorted out. He’ll be fine. He seems to welcome the challenge.”

“I guess our baby is growing up faster than we expected…”

“It’s interesting that Lodge had enough sense to realize the value that Frederick could play in socializing the members of the project to accept the changes…wait a minute!…speaking of babies…I almost forgot…did you take the test? What were the results?”

Darcy was not sure, but Mark looked so hopeful, she would have bet that he was hoping she was pregnant, and she wasn’t even sure she was so gleeful about it herself, so she just pulled out the test strip and held her breath.

Mark’s jaw dropped like it fell out of its hinges before he broke into a grin, and yelled Yahoo! three times as he picked her up and spun around like a dervish until she was afraid they would both fall on their silly asses.

They stood there kissing each other passionately as they tore each other’s clothes off on their way to the bedroom. Suddenly, Mark stopped abruptly.

He looked her straight in the eye and asked “I never thought to ask you how you felt…are you OK with this?”

With tears in her eyes, she said “I am now…”

A dark cloud passed over her as she asked “But what if it’s not yours? Have you even considered…”

Mark put a finger to her lips and lovingly shushed her. “Well, it will definitely be yours…so how could I not love it? I remember the first time you told me ‘What’s mine is yours’ …and what’s yours is mine…and well, I’m going to hold you to that.”

There are No Secrets Amongst Those of One Mind

During the next Sunday’s sermon at the Sanctuary of The Home for Wayward Souls, Frederick suddenly began to sign in an erratic and confusing manner not at all like him. He nudged Mark and looked at him quizzically after looking first at Darcy, and then back to Mark.

When he initially began learning American Sign Language he used the expression ‘Aunt’ Darcy to express his acceptance of her as a surrogate mother by virtue of her role as a handler the same way that chimp mothers will jointly raise and nurture each other’s offspring.

There is a vocalized utterance that is often used to acknowledge this relationship as well, but Frederick’s confusion at that moment was clouding his telepathic ‘voice’ to Mark because he wasn’t sure what it was that he was trying to express.

Frederick also liked to refer to his mother as ‘Mama Lilith’ in much the same way that young children will also attempt to call their parents by their first names as they become accustomed to hearing their parents’ associates refer to them.

Mark suddenly realized that Frederick’s confusion stemmed from the fact that he only associated the term ‘Mama’ to his own birth mother, even though he was sensing something else about Darcy that was strangely out of character for her in her role as his childhood ‘Aunt.’

Frederick already knew intuitively that Darcy was with child, and now he did not know what to call her. Once or twice since he had received sentience, he had jokingly referred to her as ‘Aunt Darcy’ because it was strangely out of character considering he had not used the ‘Aunt’ pronoun for her in years, and their relationship was now considerably more complicated.

This sort of humor would have been impossible before he received The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because chimpanzee humor is more characteristically slapstick or prank-oriented due to the limitations of their levels of comprehension.

Although his cognitive consciousness was growing exponentially as the weeks passed, there were times when the gaps proved to be especially frustrating.

His frustration now stemmed from attempting to use the term ‘Mama’ and ‘Darcy’ at the same time.

Mark finally signed (and thought) to Frederick “Yes, Darcy is going to have a baby”, thinking that was the source of his confusion.

Suddenly the other members of the group (including Ash) audibly gasped at the revelation, as all eyes turned to Darcy.

Ash choked in mid-sentence in the middle of one of the most eloquent sermons he could remember giving in years…struck mute…speechless, shocked and overjoyed all at once.

All he could think to do was to cue the ArchAngels and rush down to embrace Darcy as the rest of the group rose to do the same.

Stanley was completely befuddled until Darcy finally told him “They just found out I’m going to have a baby.” Darcy was very deferential in extending Stanley the courtesy of translating ASL for him.

The group stood and talked briefly, and agreed to assemble that night at the rectory, apologizing to Frederick that they regretted he would not be able to attend.

Charles suddenly blurted out “Well, what do you know Frederick; it looks like you’re going to get to find out what it’s like to have a brother after all…or a cousin, depending on how you look at it.”

Merle winced and added “I think we are all in agreement that this child will have no shortage of love, acceptance and familial support. Mark…Darcy I believe I speak for everyone here to congratulate the both of you on this seemingly miraculous event. We are becoming a family of families. We look forward to discussing this with both of you at more length this evening.”

Ash hugged Darcy and Mark before he jumped back up on the stage to announce the blessed event for the benefit of the somewhat startled and confused audience, who then gave them a standing ovation.

When Stanley Linderman gave his report to Sebastian G. Lodge later that afternoon, his director remarked in mock surprise “Well, what do you know…for all their hippie new age polyamory I guess the prospect of children and family has a way of bringing out their traditional family values after all…So when is the wedding?”

“I have no idea sir; they did not even mention it during or after the services in my presence…at least as far as I can tell, because they also sign everything they discuss verbally for the benefit of the ape…I can’t be sure, and it is my understanding that chimps comprehend a lot more than most of us give them credit…especially this one…but both Mark, and Darcy are very polite about translating everything they sign to Frederick to me as a courtesy, which I found to be especially thoughtful, considering I never even had to ask them to do so.”

“How are the ASL lessons going, by the way Linderman?”

“Leave it to Leidos to think of everything and leave no stone unturned…uh, I mean… very well sir. I can almost keep up with their more pedestrian conversations, and I honestly do not think they even suspect that I understand their signing at all.”

“Good. Keep it that way. It will help make sure we keep them honest with us. If you ever start to even suspect that either of them is not accurately disclosing the full extent of their communications with that monkey, do not let on that you are aware of their ruse.”

“They thought they were so clever in getting me to allow them to take that monkey off campus in the first place. The beauty of it all is that it simply allows me to gain relatively unfettered access to intel about their subversive and perverted cult. I had every right to deny them from taking him anywhere just based on protection of our interests…”

“Excuse me sir, but Frederick is a Chimpanzee-Bonobo hybrid, which still makes him a Great Ape, not a monkey…for one thing he has no tail…”

“Linderman, I do not need to be corrected on semantics, or given a lecture on Anthropology! You’re not in any danger of going ‘native’ on me, are you Linderman?”

“Absolutely not, sir!”

“See to it that you don’t, or I’ll change the assignment to someone else. We only have minimal investment in your preparation so far, and we can’t afford to let you get sympathetic with them and go soft.”

“No sir…not at all. Not a chance. I meant no disrespect…I take all my assignments very seriously, and my only concern was for accuracy.”

“Very well Linderman…that will be all for now.”

“Yes sir, Colonel Lodge.”

“Do not use that title when addressing me again Linderman! Not even in confidence or privately from this point on; are we clear?”

“Yes Director Lodge.”

“Dismissed.”

Stanley Linderman was one of the best of his ilk… (whatever that was) but although he would never admit to it, there was something about these particular assigned targets that appealed to him intellectually and aesthetically as well.

He had been an agnostic since before he went into the military…long before he went undercover…and Lodge was such a bible-beater that he did not even bother to discuss his religious beliefs (or lack of them) with anyone, let alone his director…but there was something about this Home for Wayward Souls that allowed him to let just a glimmer of Faith…or maybe Hope into his heart without incurring Fear, Shame, Sin or Judgment.

His father had been one of those “…but I will defend to the death your right to your beliefs with my life if necessary…” kind of rugged individualists, and the apple had not fallen that far from the tree.

He did not share his director’s views on many subjects. He did not even especially care for Sebastian Galbraith Lodge because he thought he was too much of a self-righteous zealot.

He believed that narrow-minded fanatics endangered the rights and freedoms and civil liberties that had been the hallmark of the ideals of the American Dream from all the way back when people still understood what a republic really was supposed to represent.

He was a professional however and knew to ‘govern himself accordingly.’ He had orders to follow as well as a conscience, and it was his conscience that had prompted him to follow his chosen career, both as a servant of the public as well as of his own principles.

SOLIDARITY:

Frederick was conspicuous in his absence that night at the Sanctuary, but the mood of the group in general was so buoyed by the revelation of Darcy’s pregnancy that everyone there seemed to have a shared interest in her happiness and well-being, and this mood continued throughout the weeks that followed.

“If I only knew what kind of treatment I was going to get, I might have considered doing this on purpose a long time ago!” Darcy quipped. As attentive to Darcy as Mark habitually was now every member of the group seemed to focus all of their attention and support to her.

Suki and Kali both seemed to hover at her elbows and were a seemingly endless source of massages, foot and back rubs, herbal teas and general pampering in a way that seems to come so naturally to some women. In this way, their sisterhood was enhanced as a natural bi-product that seemed to draw its energies from the lack of competitiveness or jealousy amongst the women, or for that matter, the men either.

Ash, Charles, and Merle likewise showed their support for Mark as well as Darcy. Rather than leave Mark feeling pushed out when the women surrounded Darcy, the men were able to distract Mark long enough to just let things happen.

It is all too customary for a solitary couple to loose themselves in the demands and dramas of a normal pregnancy, but they were able to balance the warm envelope of a sense of belonging to something larger than just themselves with the celebration of independence within this small group of individuals of common mind and purpose.

Mark and Darcy had decided they would get married within the month. They both had good healthcare insurance, but they figured this was a good time to embrace the obvious.

Ash finally acknowledged the giant elephant in the room long enough to simply state that as much as everyone in the group had committed themselves to higher mental and spiritual goals, a ‘Line Marriage’ might be a logical and rational approach to giving legal and financial support to all the members of the group, including any new members…and most especially any new arrivals in the form of children.

In this way, this unforeseen but fortuitous event helped focus their attentions on the future of their way of life and beliefs, as well as their property.

Although Darcy’s current condition might be instrumental in helping to guide the members of the group in that direction, this would by no means be the sole determinant in deciding to take such a move at this time.

Collectively, both the Home for Wayward Souls as a non-profit limited legal corporation, including syndicated television rights, as well as Kali’s Tantric web site, had rendered Ash and Kali, quite wealthy; it is not at all an uncommon trend for corporate officers of non-profit organizations to earn very large salaries. If they defer initial salaries until after the corporate bills are paid for the first several years, the payoffs can be very sizable.

They both had had the foresight to hire themselves out to their own incorporations for seven-figure salaries from day one, agreeing to forestall payment (with interest) until such time as was financially feasible.

Ash and Kali wanted to be able to make that money available to anyone that they felt deserved it, without relinquishing large amounts of it in taxes (In much the same way that living trusts are set up every day in this country).

Healthcare benefits and retirement plans are available as small group insurers. It allows for the legal collective ownership of property and wealth among the living members of the family and sets up a hierarchy of leadership that allows for contingency plans in the event of contested successions.

Another quantum leap for the members of the group; all in less than a year’s time.

It was also unanimously voted to defer any DNA testing of the child. To single out one parent at the expense of the involvement of the others was deemed unnecessary and irrelevant.

Once again, ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ was the operant principle. Happiness is a choice. This was an opportunity for everyone to be happy.

Mark was one of the strongest proponents of the choice, as was Darcy; by giving the other members of the group the opportunity for involvement and commitment according to their nature and abilities the women were also included as equally as if they had carried the child, just as the men were equally included without the necessity of singling out one male as the genetic biological father.

There have been numerous proponents of this type of marriage for many years; Robert Heinlein the science-fiction author was one of the first and most eloquent spokespersons for the concept.

Intriguingly, although no Western culture or society openly allows for a formal marriage between more than two people, polyamorous sexual unions are frequently not specifically prohibited and joint ownership of property within the structure of a corporation is perfectly legal.

The problem legally is that it is almost impossible to find anywhere in the world that will recognize the legality of various forms of group marriage or legally determined polyamorous relationships. It also goes without saying that in all of our myriad creative and imaginative ways of bonding and uniting people of common interest that specific labels, identities, and rules of engagement have a tendency to preclude individual interpretations of those boundaries, as well as their obligations and responsibilities.

To that end, let us just acknowledge that the group put almost all their creative talents into researching ways to circumvent the more litigious aspects of community property and polyamory into a viable and legally unassailable working model of libertarian functionality that did not choose to take on the religious ultra-right-wing Christian mainstream into battle.

By choosing rather to capitalize on the ambiguities and loopholes, if you will of our legal and civil systems to allow members of an incorporated financial entity to do as they pleased within the confines of their corporate campus, which was to be operated as a non-profit organization devoted to the research of creative methods of the pursuit of higher levels of common consciousness, social, and family educational structures.

Without adding an additional hundred-plus pages to this account, suffice it to say that the pursuit and research had a galvanizing effect on the group that surpassed even all their previous endeavors. In it, they were perfecting their own social structure and determinism with an eye for the future as well as the present.

They did it logically and passionately at the same time, and in so doing, extended a moment into a lifetime union of Love and Logic balancing Romance upon Reason.

Once again, it was Homecoming Weekend and the Senior Prom all rolled into one endeavor…one mind. This was The Home for Wayward Souls at its best; when it allowed the members to focus the best of themselves onto a common goal with a common purpose, reaching one mind by way of the union of many minds.

As long as the financial and legal aspects of the corporation are sound, the private activities of the members of the corporation can remain private. It can be done, even in the state of Florida.

It was also mutually agreed to conduct a Wiccan Circle as the ceremonial rite to acknowledge the union of the members of the group. After some considerable debate, it was also agreed that Frederick be included as a member of the group within the Wiccan Circle as an acknowledgement of his celebration of sentience within their tribe.

This prompted some considerable discussion as to how the logistics of all this might be accomplished, now that Frederick was only allowed to leave the campus of the Habitat for Primate Research on Sundays, and with the accompaniment of Stanley Linderman.

There was an unknown quantity in terms of the limits of understanding and tolerance even Ash’s congregation might allow, as he had already talked (and acted) his way out of one congregation already.

Although it was true that he and Kali legally owned all rights and property of The Home for Wayward Souls, it was not their intention of become a congregation of less than a dozen members, nor was it their intention to become shackled by the mob rule of public opinion to determine how they should determine the nature and quality of the lives they were inventing for themselves on a moment-by-moment basis with their eyes nonetheless focused on their future.

The weeks turned into months as the process took its own sweet time in coming into fruition, much the same way as the swelling of Darcy’s belly foretold of new life emerging within the confines of their own familial community.

Anticipating the Next Move

Because the staff at the Habitat valued Frederick’s abilities to lead and inspire the other chimps and bonobos, no eyebrows were raised in suspicion when Frederick called all the great apes together that night.

Males, females and offspring alike were in attendance in a small grotto that had originally been part of the grounds that had separated the two groups of primates.

In the very beginning, the chimps and bonobos had been kept isolated from each other in an attempt to prevent conflict or aggression between the two subspecies.

As has been noted before, chimps are more aggressive and territorial as well as more male-dominated or patriarchal than the bonobos in terms of social structure. The chimps more resembled monogamous heterosexual Republicans when compared to the bonobos who were decidedly more liberal in their outlook, resembling Libertarians bisexuals, or even hippies.

Bonobo culture was somewhat more egalitarian between the sexes, and the females were more influential within the family order and could be downright manipulative in terms of tribal matters, often using sexual favors to increase their standing and pecking order within the village.

Because the chimps were larger and more aggressive, and also because the Congo River had separated their habitats, there was no small amount of concern for the safety of the smaller more passive bonobos who are sometimes referred to as ‘pygmy chimps.’

There was no history of their interaction to use as a predictive guide, so it was stipulated initially that they would be kept separate in their habitats in much the same way that they had in the wild.

Frederick’s very existence now opened the potential for a changed paradigm of social order and interaction between the two tribes.

Frederick was considerably larger than the biggest male chimp and he was definitely a top Alpha-Male wherever he went. His mother Lilith was a bonobo. Her strengths were cunning, manipulative imaginative and persuasive traits which Frederick acquired naturally by way of observation as well as the osmotic influences that parents provide for their offspring by way of example.

Social interaction between the great apes is a combination of persuasion, diplomacy, manipulation, subterfuge, deception, barter, and when called for, intimidation and brute force.

Frederick’s natural skills and characteristics utilized the full range of all of these elements, so it was a given almost from the day he was introduced to the other members of both tribes that he would lead them.

Within the social order of PharmaCorp’s business and operations as regards the primates he functioned not only as team leader that united the chimps and bonobos but also as a liaison between the company and the primates by way of Mark and Darcy.

Although nearly all the chimps and bonobos had taken The Fruit of theTree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil with Frederick at least once, tonight they were all going to receive sentience together, like Holy Communion.

The idea was to collectively brainstorm so as to address issues raised regarding the separation of family members, how long were they going to be apart, was this going to happen repeatedly or periodically, how many new members were going to be introduced to their community, and perhaps most importantly, what was it that they were going to teach them somewhere else that they couldn’t learn here?

Frederick admitted that everything he knew had been told to him by Mark, who did not especially trust Management. The nature of their training was unknown. They would be gone for three weeks. Others would be brought in to take their place while they were gone, which would also involve training the new primates until all the members were rotated through all aspects of training.

No one knew how many new trainees would be involved overall.

Mark had been told the idea was to keep them from getting too bored from endless repetitions of the same actions and that all of this was being done to learn the extent to which primates were capable of learning.

Even though the financial rewards for PharmaCorp had been considerable, it had been set up that way initially to provide incentives to encourage PharmaCorp’s participation as a for-profit company that contributed to endeavors that more closely resembled cognitive and behavioral research.

Frederick’s directions for the group were relatively simple:

“Do not let your trainers know that you are capable of communicating non-verbally either with each other, or through them except by ASL.”

“Stick to the American Sign Language training and scripting, but do not use it to compare notes with the other primates or share other forms of knowledge or learning amongst yourselves.”

“Do not disclose the extent of your growing sentience, awareness, comprehension or intuitive or telepathic abilities to anyone other than Mark, Darcy, I or other chimps and bonobos you already trust that you know for a fact have taken The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

“Whenever possible try to contact me, Darcy or Mark…in your mind before words. If a particular time of day is better than another, just try to be consistent so that I learn to anticipate your communications. You don’t have to prove anything, nor have any expectations placed upon you, so most of all don’t worry, because we will exchange information when you get back. We just want to stay one step ahead of them; nothing special just now, just keep your ears open and your head down.”

On the surface, everything gave the appearance of being positive, creative, and in the best interests of the chimps and bonobos, except for the imposition of a forced separation of the family members. It could well be argued that this could provide an opportunity to study the effects of separation upon the primate culture in a closed model.

It could well be an opportunity to showcase their abilities as sentient beings. It would not however represent an accurate picture of primate learning, cognition and behavior as a group, so there was a tendency to want to keep all matters pertaining to the ingestion of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil occult, which would mean having to try to “dumb down” for the new evaluators, which would not be easy, since so much of their new consciousness was innate.

The odd thing was that due to the natural prejudice of most researchers, they might not be inclined to notice the more subtle associations of particular types of sentience or consciousness, as opposed to mere intelligence as defined by certain measurable degrees of cognition linked to performance-based testing. They might not even notice at all….

“Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser…”to keep all matters pertaining to the ingestion of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil occult, which would mean having to try to “dumb down” for the new evaluators, which would not be easy, since so much of their new consciousness was innate.

The odd thing was that due to the natural prejudice of most researchers, they might not be inclined to notice the more subtle associations of particular types of sentience or consciousness, as opposed to mere intelligence as defined by certain measurable degrees of cognition linked to performance-based testing. They might not even notice at all….

“Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser…”

WHEN IS A MARRIAGE NOT A MARRIAGE?

Ash had learned much over the last few years about the politics of maintaining a congregation without having to sacrifice all of your principles.

The irony was that by the time he had learned to ‘play the game’ he was now given the opportunity to push the envelope in whatever direction he believed to be inspired by his heart and mind and enjoy increased support and greater numbers of followers.

His time had come within his involvement with mankind when his opinion coincided with public opinion before it was yet public opinion. He was in the right place at the right time…no, it was more like he was the right place and the time was his.

People had grown weary and suspicious of their grandparents’ religions.

Many of them found it almost impossible to read most portions of the Old Testament that described either the jealous, wrathful, angry God of Ezekiel, the unreasonable God of Leviticus, or the perplexing mind-fuckery of the God of Abraham without being drawn into questioning the dubious mindset of the peoples of those times.

Interpretations of the truth are so controlled by the participant/observers involved that regardless of how the outcome is effected by the simple observation of a phenomenon, the way in which that observation is interpreted renders almost everything useless to anyone other than the observer/participants themselves, if at all.

In Quantum Mechanics it is the dreaded Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle concerning complimentary variables  as well as the Observer Effect, or the Robertson-Schrodinger uncertainty relations, or in Behaviorism the Hawthorne effect, the Probe Effect in terms of scientific measurement, or the Observer-Expectancy Effect as an anticipated outcome of loss of objectivity.

Although we might attempt to unravel the storyteller from the story, our own impositions of subjectivity are just as suspect.

Charles Bukowski perhaps said it best when he observed that “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

And yet somehow, the Atheists never seem to have much fun, either, and there is almost none of the camaraderie of the devout to help blunt the edge of The Great Existential Void.

Sometimes the ones most in need of a social network somehow never recognize it.

People seek connection, recognition, validation, recreation and a sense of belonging to something larger than just themselves, even if it means simply seeking the company of other similarly isolated souls.

Our mutual recognition of each other’s isolation is its own fellowship of shared loneliness, but not much more than that, although every once in a while it distracts us long enough to keep us from killing ourselves, or maybe even each other.

Sometimes, after we take off the rose-colored glasses, and the blinders and stop waiting for or anticipating what someone else told us to expect, we may experience moments of clarity, realizations, serendipity, synchronicity, epiphanies, and moments of joy.

The Home for Wayward Souls was a place to experience those moments.

Some find God, some find companionship, some find solitude, some find Peace, some find Inspiration and some just find themselves.

The more freedom you give your congregation, the more you get, but there is a sweet intoxication to be had from followers; an audience, or a congregation seeking to be lead to blissful inspiration via words, music, visual imagery or conjured visions borne of ideas.

Even if you tell them they have to find the truth for themselves they want you to lead them to it; to be their guide, to point them in the right direction, to follow your path and to be their champion, their hero.

Ash had become a reluctant hero. Siddhartha warned his followers that enlightenment was not to be gained from sitting at his feet.

Now it was his job to lead his congregation to accept a line marriage that modeled itself after a Wiccan Circle (and included a chimpanzee). And he was just the Showman to do it.

(This is the part where the Showman has to sell the concept of a Line Marriage to his congregation without having to go into all the specifics of what is involved…including calling it a Line Marriage in the first place.)

“Effective leadership often involves knowing what lies to tell, and when to tell them” (as well as who to tell them).  –I Ching (With apologies)

Partly because it is really nobody else’s business as to every single dynamic of their social interactions, every effort would be made to portray Frederick’s involvement as an adopted child of the family being created, which in a sense he was.

Instead of jumping over a broom, they would jump over a sword. Those who understood the symbolism were not likely to ‘out’ the group, and most of the ceremony would lend a tone of Romanticism and imagery upon which they could place their own interpretations.

The Home for Wayward Souls openly embraced many Pagan and non-Judeo/Christian influences and references without necessarily endorsing or promoting anything that did not fit for each individual.

All of the members of the central group had become role models for most of the other members of the congregation through no specific act or intentions to do so. As a group they were the disciples of Ash’s church and would be offered to the congregation as officers of the organization.

Darcy, Kali, Suki, Merle, Mark, Charles and Ash would now be considered a circle of advisors who would live on-campus at the Sanctuary. Frederick would be included as their primary link to the animal kingdom vis-à-vis non-vocalized communications, although his physical presence at the Sanctuary would be limited to a few hours every Sunday, given his ownership by The Center for Primate Research, and eventually, PharmaCorp.

If there was any dissent amongst the members of the congregation, no one heard it voiced. It was as if the further Ash and the group pushed the envelope, the more enthusiastic the congregation and the wider the viewership of the syndicated television program became.

It seemed like the whole world was watching. The louder and more aggressive his detractors and critics grew, the more people flocked to his church, his TV show, and Kali’s website. He gave love and validation for many of those who needed it, and did not require renunciation, guilt, shame, penance or retribution to get it.

The same controversy that had been a viability for so many years now was launching him into superstar status.

It still remained to be determined as to just how much the public would continue to not only accept, but also embrace his Home… with the enthusiasm of followers, disciples, and pilgrims, while Ash continued to tell them they have to find the answers for themselves.

As far as Ash and Kali were concerned, everyone was entitled to Unconditional Support and Understanding as long as no one else was hurt; they would provide him or her the setting to conduct their search.

They sometimes lost support from those who expected Ash and Kali to condemn someone else for them. Good riddance.

There would have been a time when the spirit of anti-Communism might have challenged the legality of the sort of corporate structure that a Line Marriage represents, because there is a considerable amount of community property that is shared by its members.

But the real crucial difference was how private property was identified. Ash was famous for being quoted as saying “Hey, what’s yours is yours, but what’s mine is ours (except for whatever Kali and I choose to keep between ourselves…..).”

“Much can be shared of our own private property as chosen, but it is what we recognize as being jointly owned that can pass freely among us, as well as pass from us to those who shall follow us.”

The beauty of the concept is that as a capitalist society the laws and regulations as to incorporation, especially among non-profit organizations not attempting to claim charitable status (as is the practice of most churches) are well geared toward insulating and protecting the members of the corporation in any number of ways.

Polygamy, Polygyny, and Polyandry are not legal in this country. Gay marriage and Civil Unions have only recently been declared legal, as the ultra-conservative religious element begins new efforts to disallow any and all forms of multiple marriage or any marriage of anyone other than one man to one woman.

Once life and healthcare insurance companies began to allow civil unions between same-sex partners to be recognized so as to allow benefits to be assigned to non-married beneficiaries, the initial energies directed toward recognition of gay marriage might have been anticipated to dwindle, but it did not.

People have wanted to proclaim their bonds or affiliations and announce their intentions to the rest of the world since practically the beginning of time. We seek recognition and validation in almost everything we do.

But multiple unions of legally-recognized marriage partners is still one of the strongest taboos faced worldwide. Fortunately however incorporations of individuals for financial and legal protections and benefits has allowed Lutherans or Free Masons or Firemen for instance to provide Life and Healthcare insurance to their members as a Special Group.

Most families would be well advised to seek non-profit status as a corporation. Once the operating expenses and overhead involved in maintaining a corporation (e.g. family) are factored, few people see anything other than a net operating loss carry-forward until the first generation of adults has reached retirement age and the mortgage on the facilities (e.g. domicile) is paid.

Shortly afterward, Amortization of the heads of the household is also assumed to be imminent, or at least pending.

In order to pass this wealth on to their progeny, inheritance taxes will have to be paid, living trust funds notwithstanding.

Marriages are considered to be finite, just like dairy products, unlike corporations that can be anticipated to continue to operate for many generations.

For-profit corporations are assumed to be formed for the purpose of making money, but non-profit corporations are tasked with having a declared and stated purpose for their existence.

Most families do not stop to think long enough to ponder the purpose of their existences.

A non-profit corporation devoted to the advancement and study of higher levels of human consciousness in the pursuit of sexual bliss through Polyamory has a stated purpose, and may even be eligible for educational grants and any number of governmental subsidies.

Even educational grants and subsidies ranging from money for tools to maintain corporate vehicles (‘Tools for Schools’) to subsidies for maintenance of wastewater (graywater) collection ponds under farm subsidies (it doesn’t take twenty acres to qualify as a farm) or money paid to not raise certain crops are available to those who possess the imagination and the initiative to avail themselves of them, as well as the knowledge of how to write grants.

And so it was that the members of The Home for Wayward Souls would be free to love, support, educate, and nurture each other for generations as a non-profit corporation as long as they did not try to claim that it was a marriage.

And at least for now, if questioned they would emphatically state it was not a marriage…for well after they all should live.

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY:

As it turned out, the wedding was set for two Sundays after the first group of Chimps returned from their off-campus training. What Frederick had shared with Mark and Darcy during their absence was that he envisioned the chimps being flown in a large army cargo aircraft to somewhere in the Deep South.

What he described to them sounded as if they were getting military training. Upon their return, they confirmed that they had been given a primate equivalent of “boot camp’ that initially centered around following orders and conducting relatively benign maneuvers as a group.

They ate as a group, exercised as a group, slept in common quarters, and followed several trainers’ instructions, which included wearing helmets with video cameras while patrolling forest perimeters searching for human intruders who had been assigned to infiltrate their territory.

They were taught to activate an alarm when they initially discovered the invaders as well as how to capture and subdue them, including immobilization techniques and flex-cuffs, all done unarmed and without harm to the captives.

They were also taught how to follow a wrist-watch sort of GPS map that each of them was given to coordinate group maneuvers. The trainers had not expected it to work quite as successfully as it did, although they did notice that the chimps were more inclined to follow their instincts than the exact directions of the map.

They often cut through designated paths to utilize more direct routes, for instance, and actually anticipated several of the maneuvers better than the trainers thought possible.

It was considered a mixed success insofar as they worked very well as a group, and were generally quite enthusiastic about following orders and instructions, but were sometimes unpredictable because of their penchant for improvising, even when it worked better than the designated plans.

The trainers were not prepared to recognize intuition amongst their test subjects, largely because they did not possess it themselves.

Sebastian Lodge was kept informed of the progress of the group and seemed to indulge himself in a certain glee about only informing Mark and the other researchers about the nature, extent, or details of the experiments on a very limited basis.

When questioned, he would smirk and put a finger to his lips and mouth the phrase ‘Need to know’ if pressed to divulge anything Lodge did not care to share with Mark and the trainers.

Interestingly enough, the chimps generally enjoyed the entire adventure, the exercise, the outdoors, and the break from the monotony of telemarketing.

There had been a few isolated instances of rebelliousness or disobedience that had been mitigated with either tranquilizer darts or Tasers. The incidents made a lasting impression on the chimps, who were deeply disturbed by the use of punishment as a form of control, which was something to which they had never before been subjected.

Another group was sent out immediately after the return of the first group. The trainers were told to anticipate this schedule until all the chimps were eventually rotated through the first round of training. They were also told there would be additional rounds of training sessions off-campus in the coming month.

What was not anticipated was how poorly the chimps would acclimate themselves back into their old positions at PharmaCorp. As much as Mark had been suspicious of the intentions of ‘The Corporation’ when the off-campus training began, he understood why the chimps preferred it to the ‘research’ they were conducting for PharmaCorp, which he had already noted, was far too much like a ‘job’ that stifled and victimized the primates to maximize corporate profits.

The real dilemma was that he could not discuss it with Lodge because he was not even supposed to know about it in the first place, and he did not intend to show his hand as far as his sources of information, although it is doubtful that Lodge would have been willing to accept that the test subjects had communicated any of this to Frederick, or that Frederick had leaked this to Mark. Were he to say anything at all, it would trigger too much suspicion and probably get him thrown off the project.

Although Mark and Darcy discussed it extensively, they decided to take the information to the rest of the group to ponder.

As researchers who were personally involved with their test subjects they were disturbed and offended that what was being done was to prepare the primates for some kind of military training.

Charles was the first to point out that canines are routinely used by both the Police and Military services. The chimps were enjoying the break from the soul-killing monotony of telemarketing, and this might represent a breakthrough for the status of the primates.

Think about it…because of their police service, specially trained canines were legally considered law-enforcement officers, who are never charged with excessive use of force or held accountable for doing anything other than what they were told to do.

To resist or harm a police canine constitutes charges of Assault on a Police Officer, which is a serious felony.

No such sort of recognition or status has ever been bestowed upon any other animal. Perhaps military service would enable them to “climb the ladder’ within our social order.

It generally takes a changed paradigm of public opinion to effect any changes in our society.

It has only been in the last few years that the use of higher primates (especially chimps) for medical research has been banned by most countries in the world.

Ash argued that the same sort of logic could be used to justify the slavery of Africans as a free trip to America. Once sentience is introduced into the equation, it is questionable to justify any activity that does not include the free will and choice of the participant.

The rest of the evening was devoted to planning the wedding and making arrangements for Mark and Darcy to move into the Sanctuary.

Charles and Suki already owned their home, but it was understood that they could move onto the premises at any time, or even build their own quarters on the property if they chose. They were still considering their options and in no rush.

Although the presentation of the Church officers (wedding) would be a public event scheduled for the Sunday service so as to accommodate Frederick’s presence, the reception would start in the Sanctuary and eventually move to the rectory for the rest of the evening.

Select members were invited to the reception at the Sanctuary following the service, but only the members of the group (minus Frederick) would be in attendance at the rectory. As it was, they planned for Frederick (and Stan) to be around until at least seven o’clock.

Frederick was greatly missed over the last several months since he was only allowed off-campus for the Sunday services, but Mark and Darcy planned that they were going to petition Sebastian G. Lodge to allow them to take him off-campus for entire weekends once they were moved.

The argument was that the increased human social contact would be beneficial to Frederick, and could be well documented by Darcy, and that he could be transported by Stanley Linderman to and from the facilities, ostensibly to protect the interests of ‘The Corporation.’

The property surrounding the Sanctuary was a well-controlled and protected habitat that would help to provide a nurturant and supportive environment. Because Frederick had not chosen a mate, it would give him (and Lilith and Malkira) a break from his enforced isolation.

It was hoped that it might sublimate the frustration and violence that often begins to appear in chimps kept in captivity beyond about the five-year mark by providing a social network and interaction with a larger group of individuals. Frederick’s case was unique indeed, due to his Chimp/Bonobo hybrid status as a self-proclaimed ‘Bonanzee’ who really had no peers.

The Wedding at the Church of The Rock:

(…and The Roll)

Darcy was well over six months pregnant the Sunday that she stood beside Mark to exchange vows of marriage. They were surrounded by Charles and Suki, Frederick, Merle and Kali as they stood before Ash at the altar of The Home for Wayward Souls.

In fact, it was on that Sunday that they would all be joined in wedlock, but for the sake of the sensibilities of the rest of the congregation they would be spared some details of the union. Although a significant portion of the congregation was aligned with Polyamory and Group Marriage, it would be up to them to put together the pieces and figure it out for themselves.

There are those that would argue that if you possess the courage of your convictions, you should be willing to stand up for them. And then again, there are those who would maintain that if you already know that you are in hostile territory, there is no need or purpose in making yourself a target for abuse at the hands of the ignorant and intolerant.

Not necessarily within the church itself, but these days, the whole world really did seem to be watching, and the TV ratings generally supported that at least a very large portion of it was.

Ash tried at every opportunity to provide his congregation with the necessary information and guidance to figure out what they needed spiritually and how to get there. Although he had devoted his life to the pursuit of all manner of things spiritual, he believed that he was a source for information and inspiration, guidance and council, but he was not a shepherd, and his congregation was not a flock of sheep.

Ash faced his congregation and the cameras.

“Dearly beloved…we are gathered here today to join this man and woman in Holy Matrimony.”

“My question to you is ‘Why?’ Do they believe that they have been living in Sin until this moment?”

“No, I can tell you with complete certainty that they do not.”

“Do they necessarily have to for the sake of their children? Of course they do not…”

“So why?”

“Because they have chosen to join their lives together. Because they desire to be one in each other’s eyes. They could have chosen a civil union if all they wanted was public recognition.” 

“Most marriages end in divorce; that may sound fatalistic, but it is a true fact, and I believe that the reason that it is true is because as much as people give lip service to the union of marriage, they are too selfish to recognize the commitment it requires of them and spend too much time and effort trying to control each other, rather than pleasing each other.”

“It has been said that a man marries a woman hoping that she will never change, and a woman marries a man with the hope that she can change him. Both points of view are fatally flawed.”

“One of the main premises of this church is gratitude, because no matter who you are or where you are, the fact that you are here at all is a miracle and a privilege, just to be alive.”

“People use God to explain the creation. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you believe there is a God out there that can just bake a Universe like a batch of brownies, the real wonderment and awe of our existence can be explained away with a wave of the hand…‘God made it all’ is dismissive and puerile.”

“Why? Well think of it this way…it has been said that with an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, eventually, they will produce Shakespeare…In the case of the Universe, there has been an infinite amount of time for matter and energy to combine to create life…to go from an inorganic to an organic state, and then to achieve the spark of life…no matter how many times it failed…no matter how many false starts occurred, eventually Life appeared due to subtle and unsubtle changes due to random occurrences that incrementally resulted in Life as we know it here on earth.”

“I recently read that as recently as perhaps five billion years ago, there may have been both water and life on Mars, long before there was life on Earth. Makes you sort of wonder…all that time and all that space, and here we are right here and now.”

“In the history of the Earth alone, Man’s existence on the planet is just a blip on the radar screen. If the history of the Earth was reduced to seven days, Man’s time here so far would be less than one second.”

“We know that the Earth, because of the finite life of our sun, is also on a countdown timer…with at least several million years before it collapses into a super-nova and explodes, but don’t worry…the super-nova that results will probably result in yet another ‘Big Bang’ much like the one that created our universe in the first place, so in a couple billion years, there May Be Life again in our solar system, so what’s your hurry?”

“To me, the idea that my existence is the result of an infinite number of coincidences and random chance over an infinite amount of time fills me with a sense of awe and gratitude that far exceeds the simplistic phrase ‘God made me’….”

“The truth is, if there is a God who created us like a batch of fresh-baked cookies, the questions that remain are so beyond anything that we could comprehend that they in effect are meaningless…just as meaningless as why such a God would demand worship and sacrifice from his creations, or what would render him so wrathful as to provoke him to damn them to Hell for Eternity, or why he would be so jealous and insecure as to demand we worship no other Gods…you mean there’s a choice?….”

“But instead, every day when I wake up I think to myself that I must be the luckiest man in the entire world because I know that everyday my beautiful, loving and sexy wife Kali will do everything she can to prove me right, and I do exactly the same for her.”

“God will choose to inspire and influence each of us according to our natures…but if anyone claims to actually hear or see God…they are labeled Schizophrenic…and let’s face it, virtually everyone who does claim to have direct communion with God these days has either just murdered someone because they claim God told them to do it (not unlike Abraham) or else they are trying to extort money from the public to do his bidding.”

“I believe that a just and loving God will possess the understanding, intelligence, and compassion to deal with us without punishment…and with infinite time, comes infinite patience…”

“So for here and now, these children of God are the Rock upon which I shall continue to build this church, this Home for Wayward Souls who don’t believe in Sin or Damnation and refuse to carry guilt for being themselves and wanting to be happy…”

“…That don’t fear God or Hell or wrath or jealousy and don’t want to believe that they are miserable sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation.”

“So give me your Tired, your Poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…I’m sure if Jesus was alive today, one of his disciples would have been a drug addict, or a former roadie for The Grateful Dead, and maybe even a groupie or two; give me those who are tired of feeling guilty or shameful or selfish or wicked…I can’t promise to show you the way to God, but I can promise you will find more love, support and acceptance than you ever thought possible in this life.”

“These others here with me today on this stage, in front of this altar are also equally committed to the same kind of love and support of each other. They too, are choosing to renew their vows of love and commitment. They have become the core of my support of all of you. In this ceremony today, we will be committing our vows of love and loyalty to this Church of Reason insofar as they are committed to each other, so are they wed to this church.”

“For Mark and Darcy, this is a beginning; for the rest of us, this is an extension and renewal of what we began some time ago, and in this pursuit we are equally committed to each of us, as well as all of you.”

“This is the rock upon which we shall build this church.”

“Speaking of Rock…ladies and gentlemen, children and primates alike I give you the ArchAngels, my Minions of Music, charged with helping you find escape velocity sufficient to cross the abyss between all things living and inanimate.”

For the last six months the ArchAngels, having also expanded their horizons by way of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil began a song cycle they had written especially for the occasion that was a masterpiece of cooperative inspiration and genius encompassing all forms and genres of musical and sonic interpretation imaginable

Guest stars and former band members from Ash’s college days as well as numerous orchestral players from several of the local symphonies crowded the stage until it looked like the finale of one of the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions.

It was indeed their Magnum Opus and took over four hours to perform, with breaks for each individual player throughout so as not to burden anyone excessively and yet still provide a continuum of movements and progressions the likes of which may have never been performed in public before. It was planned to last through the entire reception as well.

With that, each of the group of eight joined hand in hand in a circle as Ash placed a beautiful saber on the ground between Mark and Darcy as they began to jump across it as the circle began to orbit Ash at the center in a clockwise fashion until all had jumped over the sword, including Frederick who held Darcy’s right hand and Suki’s left. With that, Ash joined hands with Kali on his right as Merle held Kali’s right hand while the three of them successively jumped over the sword together, whereupon they began to rotate counter-clockwise as all jumped over the sword again.

This they did four times before they stopped and bowed deeply to each other before turning outward toward the congregation to bow to them as well.

What most the rest of the congregation did not see (having not yet been offered the sacrament that united the eight of the group, plus the band) was that from every rafter, every precipice, the altar, both podiums, the stairs and the chandeliers one or more of the Ancient Ones perched, clapped, and danced, and zapped back and forth in blinding flashes everywhere you looked, if you looked with just the right eyes.

Also, several children, two seeing-eye dogs, their masters, a warlock, two Wiccan practitioners and a homeless man who sometimes wandered in all gave varying indications of their acknowledgement of the Ancient Ones.

Most of the rest of the congregation was so mesmerized by the music, the ceremony, and the hypnotic effect of the Sefirot that they did not even notice anything else.

And throughout it all, Stanley Linderman sat silently, almost motionless in the back of the church, expressionless, with his sunglasses still on.

It is doubtful that even if Sebastian Galbraith Lodge had been present, he would have noticed the briefest of moments when Stan the Man in Black pretended to cough so as to disguise his need to wipe a tear from his face.

THE RECEPTION

Anastasia arrived late to the wedding, and was sitting in the last row, behind and slightly to the right of Stanley Linderman, and the only one to notice when he wiped the tear from his eye. He was trying so hard to disguise the evidence of his emotional response he did not even notice Anastasia pretending not to notice at all.

But she did, and it intrigued her more than she intended to let on, at least at first. She could spot an MIB in a crowd in seconds…hell she was married to one, and she knew what they liked…at least the ‘right’ ones.

She had always been a free spirit and had insisted that she be able to pursue her occasional romantic interests as long as they did not interfere with her basic commitment to her marriage. She hated the term polyamory for reasons she never bothered to explain, but it appeared that her biggest issue was with the idea of loving anyone other than your spouse. 

She preferred to regard her outside sexual adventures as more recreational than amorous.

Her husband knew better than to try to dictate too many rules to a woman like Anastasia, but they had mutually agreed upon a few. One of which was that she was not allowed to ‘cast her nets’ in the same waters in which her husband fished, and preferably no one at DOD at all.

That wasn’t always easy but as sure as ‘rules are rules.’ someone will decide to bend them without breaking them, and Anastasia was famous for being ‘bent, but not broken’ herself.

Because of this, she demanded the utmost discretion from all of her lovers, especially the ones that worked for ‘three-letter agencies.’ Most of them required equal discretion on her part as well, and that helped minimize the tacky factor of the actions and communications of indiscrete lovers who did not have at least as much to lose as she did, and governed their actions accordingly.

Her husband’s career required frequent travel, often outside the country. They had been married for over twenty years and a lot of water had passed under the bridge in that time.

Stanley was charged with taking Frederick back to the Habitat, once the reception was over. Usually, Darcy and Mark went with him after the services were over, but they anticipated this might stress Frederick to travel with Stanley alone, so they did it several times prior to the wedding, just to get him acclimated to the experience.

Frederick seemed to like Stanley, and he sensed that Stanley liked him, which he did. They both could be intimidating and they both seemed to admire each other’s power and confidence, but ever since Frederick had started to communicate with Stanley by signing to him when no one else was paying attention, Stan’s fascination with Frederick’s apparent ability to read Stan’s mind had not only gotten Stan’s attention, but his respect as well.

It had become a sort of cat-and-mouse game they played. Frederick would sign to Stan, and Stan would pretend not to understand, and then Frederick would respond to whatever Stan was thinking as if he had signed back.

Frederick continued with smug amusement as Stan began to purposefully try to test Frederick’s abilities until one day last week when he signed “I know why you can’t sign back…it’s OK…our secret…for now….”

Stanley Linderman was not a man who was given to ‘hocus-pocus,’ ‘mumbo-jumbo’ or even most forms of organized religion. His understanding with Frederick went considerably outside his comfort zone and there was no one with whom he felt he could confide on the subject, but he continued this game with his simian charge because for one thing, it amused and intrigued him and for another, Frederick continued to push the envelope whenever he was given the opportunity.

Sebastian had told Stan to remain at the reception as long as it seemed appropriate so as to be able to continue to gather whatever intel could be gleaned from his association with the members of The Home for Wayward Souls, and Stan was becoming rather fond of the experiences he was having at the Sanctuary, despite the necessity of his feigned disdain for the assignment so as not to become suspect of having gone ‘native’ and having Sebastian remove him from it.

Frederick had developed a great deal of affection for Anastasia ever since she had met Charles and Suki, and tonight he decided to play matchmaker between her and Stan, as he already was aware of her attraction for him.

After the perfunctory toasts and assorted rigmarole associated with almost all wedding receptions, the real festivities got into high gear. Frederick never missed an opportunity to dance, so after dancing with all the brides (Darcy, Kali, and Suki) he enthusiastically insisted that Anastasia join him on the floor when the DJ played the New York Dolls’ recording of ’Dance Like A Monkey,’ and it was probably his single favorite tune.

Anastasia had a wickedly playful sense of humor and she and Frederick put on such a show that soon the entire crowd had surrounded the two of them as the cavorted to the song.

When they finished, everyone applauded the couple as Frederick bowed and then pulled Anastasia by the hand over to Stan whereupon he placed her hand in Stan’s, signing “Dance…you two should get to know each other.”

Although he blushed slightly, as usual, Stan shrugged his broad shoulders in feigned ignorance of Frederick’s meaning until Mark volunteered “He wants you two to dance.” and Darcy chimed in “He also wants you to be friends.”

Stan noticed the subtle difference between the translation and what had been signed and pretended not to notice the difference, although Darcy had already suspected that Stan knew more than he let on.

“Anastasia, meet Stan, Frederick’s bodyguard…Stan, meet Anastasia, one of the most interesting women you may ever meet.” Darcy winked at Anastasia as she gave her introduction.

“You can say that again…” Charles and Suki chimed in almost spontaneously, and Suki giggled like a schoolgirl as they did.

The DJ played “The Lady Lies” by Genesis. Both Stan and Anastasia seemed slightly unprepared for a slower dance, let alone a waltz, given all the upbeat craziness of the song ‘Dance like a Monkey’ that had preceded it, but she was not at all shy and was glad to get the opportunity to get up close and personal with him, and he was relieved that he didn’t have to compete with the show Frederick and Anastasia had just put on. They were a hard act to follow, and Stan wasn’t really that much of a dancer and he would not have had the courage to approach her on his own.

That was one of the things she liked about him. Much like her husband, Stan had already proven himself to be courageous under fire and had distinguished himself many times in his abilities to handle even the most menacing forms of confrontation in his (classified) professional career (whatever that was), but he was a little bit old-fashioned and shy with women.

Most women found that quality to be charming; no lack of personal confidence in general and yet none of the arrogance and swagger that most women find repulsive…Stan was actually quite the ladies’ man once things got started (usually by them), but his career and the secrecy that accompanied it usually doomed his romances fairly early on in the relationship.

That made him a perfect fit for Anastasia.

“I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna be a tight fit,” she thought as she pulled herself a little closer to Stan as they danced. It had been her finding that many large, muscular men came up a bit short below the waist, and although she claimed to not be a ‘size-queen’ her husband had occasionally joked about getting her a tattoo of a ruler on the inside of her left forearm, just because she seemed to be a magnet for well-endowed men.

Stan was well over six feet tall and Anastasia was about four-foot-fourteen, so when they danced together his belt line was almost up to her nipple line, and she could feel the growing prominence of his package as she coyly, but provocatively rubbed her body against his in a discreetly but very effective manner.

She sensed that a disturbance in her paradigm about sexual escapades was about to begin; that there was a foreboding of danger and excitement not usually found in her previous experiences that fascinated her, that made her heart race, her head spin, and nearly took her breath away, like driving past an accident possessed by the uncontrollable desire to look no matter how much you fear that what you may see could be something you may never be able to forget.

“Wherever this leads, I’m not sure, but it sure as hell is going to be very interesting,” she mused. “…and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Reception/Deception/Inception

The rest of the wedding reception was not unlike watching a bullfight with Anastasia as the matador, and Stanley Linderman the bull.

She nuzzled his chest, and he thanked her for the dance, then tried to wander off so as not to seem too anxious, but she was unrelenting and he was grateful for that.

She ran off to get them each a glass of punch, which he initially refused on the grounds that he was ‘on duty’ as Frederick’s “Chaperone” which was a very diplomatic term, but Anastasia surprised him by insisting that his was the non-alcoholic version that resided next to the real punch.

She explained that there were so many non-alcohol drinkers among the Home for Wayward Souls that everyone’s preferences had already been anticipated, including Stan’s.

He first smelled it, then gingerly tasted it before Anastasia finally said “Do I need to send it out for laboratory analysis?” before he shyly drank from it, although he did not finish it.

“I hope you won’t judge me for indulging, but I do like a nice Tanqueray Collins on really special occasions like this. It’s not that I need to drink anything, but it does help me relax and let my hair down when I want to have a good time…of course, I have to admit that although I don’t feel like I want this evening to end…well, it would be nice if it didn’t have to end here…I guess what I’m asking is do you have any plans after you escort your charge back to his dormitory?”

“You don’t beat around the bush much do you?” Stan asked.

“There’s no bush to beat around here honey…but if I have my way, you’ll find that out soon enough for yourself…” she quipped.

With that, Stan blushed furiously as she giggled.

“I’m sorry…I can get a bit forward sometimes…I don’t mean to sound crude or cheap…I just like to avoid the verbal counterpoint that usually gets too predictable…just to keep things interesting…I hope I’m not being too forward….”

There is a thin line between being too aggressive when men like Stan. Fortunately, she had a pretty good idea of the demarcation between just plain slutty and too provocative to ignore.

Stan did not yet know that her husband was also a classified non-entity but he did know that as long as he kept his proper decorum while on the job, she was not likely to take no for an answer, and he was not likely to give any negative responses any time soon.

If you have ever watched someone try to bear-bait a member of the Grenadier Guards or Queen’s Guards at Buckingham Palace, you can get an idea of the banter between Anastasia and Stanley. She is at once both coy and demure as well as enticing and provocative while he tries to pretend to remain unaffected….and he likes it.

Suddenly, Frederick showed up with two pieces of cake for Anastasia and Stan. He acts reluctant at first, but she coaxes Stan by trying to feed it to him, and he is no match for her considerable charms, and takes a few bites from her fork.

What neither of them knows is that Frederick has opened two capsules of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil over both their pieces of cake.

Anastasia is no stranger to the sacrament, but Stan has never even smoked marijuana before. Shortly after meeting Charles and Suki, she had willingly tried it, and found the experience to be exhilarating and life-changing and has never passed up an opportunity since.

There is no question that it was inappropriate for Frederick to ‘dose’ the pair the way he did, but he already knew Anastasia enjoyed the experience and would not have said no, and as much as Frederick was fond of Stanley, he felt an obligation to free his mind from the chains that bound him in favor of helping liberate his spirit and his mind.

In the case of LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, Mescaline, Changa, Yopo, or any other number of psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs this would have been a clear-cut recipe for disaster. The onset of all of those drugs is disturbing, disorienting and generally dysphoric for at least the first twenty to forty minutes before the actual experience begins.

Sometimes there is vomiting. You may feel slightly sick, anxious and confused or even slightly febrile. Your hands may tremble. The onset of most mind-altering experiences is almost never pleasant, even for the zealots that consume them in anticipation of where it will lead.

Such was not the case with the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. From one minute to the next, there is no real interruption of your consciousness…just insight…the likes of which you have never before even considered.

You may suddenly realize that you can now access every experience, every memory you have ever had. Yet everything about your new consciousness seems very normal. No scary monsters, no Gothic foreshadowing, no paranoia. No overload.

You just suddenly realize the way, the methods, and the techniques to achieve whatever you desire. You understand the difference between covetousness and real desire. The difference between what is important and what is not important. The difference between what is true and what is false.

It doesn’t really occur to you that much of anything has changed at all. You just feel more focused and aligned. You recognize the conflicts in your life for what they are and then just as quickly realize what you must do to resolve them, a little bit at a time, as each segment presents itself to you.

No overwhelming tsunami of realization or epiphany. It’s more like swallowing an entire elephant…only one mouthful at a time.

You may be suddenly surprised by the ease with which you anticipate long or complex series’ of events, step by step, or your ability to accelerate your own processes temporarily so as to achieve the effect of slowing down all the actions around you.

No dizziness, no blurred vision or speech, no limbic system depression or anything else to cause you to hesitate to drive a vehicle or vessel, operate machinery. For some, it takes hours or even days to recognize the effects that The Knowledge has on them.

Although The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was an analogue isomer that was a naturally occurring bi-product of one of PharmaCorp’s most recent explorations into a ‘fourth-generation of anti-depressants,’ The Knowledge bore almost no resemblance to MAO’s, Tricyclic, or even SSRI’s and SNRI’s.

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methyl amphetamine) is an empathogenic drug that was made categorically illegal in 1985, when the DEA placed it in the Schedule I category, meaning it is considered to have no accepted legitimate legal medical uses. It is commonly known as Ecstasy, X, XTC, or Molly (the form least likely to contain adulterants).

Prior to its demonization, clinical research indicated great promise in the treatment of mild psychiatric disorders and even severe presentations of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other studies involving learning and perception were similarly encouraging.

Although many people were led to believe it to be dangerous because of its classification within the amphetamine and phenethylamine classes of drugs, it has become self-evident that no major world power would desire its population to be comprised of educated, sophisticated, fully rational, well-adjusted, self-actualized high-functioning adults.

Uninformed, fearful neurotics make the best consumers as they are much more easily led, lied to, and generally bamboozled by commerce, employers and politicians alike.

The first thing Merle did when he began his research for PharmaCorp was to re-arrange the MDMA molecule just subtly enough to shed the amphetamine and phenethylamine classifications.

Had Merle been some street-level chemist trying to dodge the DEA’s bullets, it might have gotten labeled as a designer drug, or copycat, but because of the veil of scientific research (as well as PharmaCorp’s ubiquitous political and economic clout) it managed to fly below the radar of government scrutiny.

Merle had a preternatural ability to visualize molecular structure as well as its anticipated effects. Once Merle discovered the even more dramatic and wide-ranging effects of the bi-product, he additionally “tweaked” The Knowledge to produce over five kilograms of pure product that required less than fifty micrograms to produce desired effects in humans and half that to achieve the level of sentience that Frederick had achieved through repeated doses and treatments.

Initial testing of selected primates that Frederick believed to be trustworthy, intelligent and deserving by virtue of their temperament were very promising, although he clearly was head and shoulders above all the rest, which was speculated to be a result of his genetics by virtue of his hybridization.

Although LSD is notorious for causing drastic visual distortions and outright hallucinations, Psilocybin for instance is much more subtle. You may notice a glow or sheen on certain objects that you never before noticed, or there may be a noticeable fluidity of background versus foreground images which may meld to produce two entirely different visual fields, much like several of Salvatore Dali’s paintings, such as the Bowl of Fruit and Saddleback Hound on the Beach for instance.

Sometimes objects may seem to step out of their backgrounds entirely. Candle flame meditation may also produce similar results, whereas sensory deprivation experiments more closely resemble LSD.

The Knowledge works very subtly and although the degree of visual effects is largely a product of the imagination of the subject, the simultaneity of experiences by several subjects, especially those in separate locations raises the supposition of hallucinations first to possible mass hysteria, and finally plausible alternative realities once enough randomized testing is done to give it the appearance of scientific method.

Kali and Suki, (both witches) needed less convincing in terms of scientific method than Darcy, who had come from an almost entirely clinical background ever since she left her tidewater birthplace. Ash’s agnosticism tended to incline him to more skeptical postulation. Merle and Charles confidently straddled both issues, since they had a family history of mysticism despite their extensive scientific pursuits.

Because Stanley was a realist, an agnostic and a quintessentially pragmatic man, he had learned to keep his whimsical and speculative longing for something more buried deep from view.

His colleagues for instance, knew nothing of his love of Mozart, Debussy, Charles Mingus, or Stanley Jordan, or that he grew up viewing prints by M.C. Escher, Aubrey Beardsley, Salvatore Dali and other graphic artists that his mother admired. His father was an omnivorous reader of everything from Robert Heinlein to Aldous Huxley, J.R.R.Tolkien, and William S. Burroughs, from Carlos Castaneda, to Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins…and more.

Thankfully, although his parents had wallowed in the kind of liberal arts education that has become so déclassé of late; they had avoided visible social protest or involvement in the kind of radical political groups that would have made him a pariah to any three-letter agency requiring a top security clearance.

The seeds of imagination, speculation, whimsy and humor were planted long ago and so very deeply as to be occult to even scrupulous examination. Most people do not realize that any candidate who gets labeled as “excessively acculturated” is likely to be rejected, since free-thinkers often do not respond simplistically or reflexively to orders in the sort of knee-jerk fashion that law-enforcement and military agencies demand. Even the most complex circumstances require blind obedience and clear-cut actions devoid of ambivalence or interpretation.

Most people on the other hand, wouldn’t know higher consciousness if it jumped naked out on an airplane at ten thousand feet wearing a parachute and landed on their faces…well, on second thought, maybe then…because if we can’t feel it in our fingers, face or toes…it may well go unnoticed by even the best of us…(people much better than me I should hope) no matter if you need ‘something more….’ or not, most of us question how the need for it seems to be a question of…well, let’s say “What’s in it for me?” Right?

And the truth is, that as long as we seek to define answers in such terms, the answer would not matter, because you would be highly unlikely to understand the meaning…no offense to anybody in particular. We all have the right to limit and rationalize ourselves in our own terms…of course.

And we all do it as a matter of course; without thought…Exactly.

At least until you come face to face with The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…because for some reason, eventually even the most rational discourse comes to embrace The Eternally Questioning Mind…voraciously…with no compassion for sentimentality nor sanction for the untenable.

The bleached bones of the ultimate truth…dispassionately neutral to any paradigm, parallel universe or other intellectual concept within the means of anyone with the understanding that the “N+1” is always an option.

And yet as much as your mind leads you to believe you are in a place where there are no philosophical “Axes to be Ground” nonetheless, you hear them squealing in metallurgic orgasms while an old familiar voice reminds you that “Every Day is Judgment Day and Nothing is guaranteed”.

Now if at that precise moment a butterfly, a Buddha, or an aboriginal Eve, for instance were to appear to you in a way that completely distracts you sufficiently to remind you of something so obvious that you can’t explain why you never thought of it before, and that timeless moment washes over you like a wave leaving you feeling forever changed…even if you are counting money, it will come to you on tiptoes, like lovers and assassins alike…then you will know…Something…for Awhile until The Next Time….

Imagine feeling like that and thinking like that without being able to Feel the cause of it…just coming to it all quite naturally, and thankfully so far having come to this place you’ve never been before within your conscious mind all the while knowing that these are parts of serial dreams we have been going through since we were children that we only recognized just now.

The Feeling of Connection. The Great Peace? Someplace where there is not always more? Nirvana? Not necessarily, but whatever it is, you will recognize it when you see it…none of it is everything….and none of it is everything….

Now while all this was going on in Stan’s Mind, he suddenly became preoccupied with how clearly he believed he could smell Anastasia’s snatch…he was convinced of it, and it appealed to him tremendously because it smelled so good to him, and he only wondered for a minute why it was that he had never noticed how sensitive his nostrils were.

And he could smell everyone else as well, but he was most attracted to Anastasia’s pheromones…like a heat-seeking missile to the tailpipe of a red-hot jet engine.

And because Stanley Linderman didn’t feel either drunk or drugged he did not recognize this enhanced version of…Exactly…Everything…Sentience as yet unknown or felt. An inescapable collision with beatific consequences that offered no prohibitions so far….

Which was about the time he visualized where and how the three of them (including Frederick) were going to facilitate each of their parts to this screenplay that was forming in his head going from the time they dropped Frederick off until they consummated this opportunity to get to know each other better.

It wasn’t until he started to believe he knew what Anastasia was thinking that he paused for just a moment to savor how blissful this line of thinking was getting to be for him…right up to about the point where he was very VERY VERY certain that what he believed she was contemplating was not anything about which he was likely to ever fantasize…at least not until just now.

And when the only physical sensation you can identify is this wonderfully light uplifting, joyous feeling in your chest you don’t suspect any drugs that you might be inclined to fear if all of this didn’t seem to be the most natural thing in the world during the very best day of your life…so far.

As he admired her face as she spoke to him in a voice that angels would envy, he saw her as all women, according to her nature which seemed to change like a glowing ember in a fire. She was alternately impish young girl, femme fatale, mother of Mata Hari, wizened crone and wicked co-conspirator and others….

She knew very well what this was, so it was just going to have to be up to Stanley Linderman to figure out as much as he could, given that she would be subject to broadcasting her thoughts before very long, no matter how much she tried to hide it…unless…who knows?

It was about that time that he found himself visualizing Anastasia as a very large female feline.

WHAT IS MY ONE TRUE FACE?

 ‘God gives us but one face; we put on all the others for everyone else.’ Ancient Koan

As they stood together, Stan suddenly realized he needed to use the restroom before he left the Sanctuary. He excused himself, relieved himself and washed his hands.

Just as he started to turn to leave, something unusual caught his eye. It was his reflection in the mirror over the sink.

Or rather, it had looked like something behind his reflection that first caused him to turn around, and then face the mirror again. There was a sort of sheen or glow that he perceived in his reflected image that suddenly fascinated him.

He also noticed his pupils were quite dilated and suddenly remembered the expression ‘Windows to the Soul.’ He stopped for just a moment to ponder what he might find if he looked deeply enough with his newly-found consciousness.

As he stared, he did not blink or shift his gaze, but instead blankly stared into his pupils, focused on the twin reflections…two white points of light at the very edge of the blackness just inside the inner edge of the irises.

He became aware of the increasing intensity of the color saturation of the entire frame of view within the mirror, as well as everything else within his field of view, never blinking or shifting his points of focus. It was like watching someone playing with the Chroma controls on a video camera or mixing console. The colors continued to intensify, then suddenly went black and just as quickly reversed to the spectral opposite of the original colors as if looking at a color negative on film.

As he stood there, fascinated by the image, he then saw his face again in the mirror, but everything had a metallic sheen to it or a neon glow that was quite beautiful. He did not shift his gaze or blink, afraid the beatific image of his face might disappear, only to realize that his face was beginning to morph into something or someone else…first he perceived the rapid aging of his face, and saw himself as he imagined he would look as a very old man.

This did not alarm him especially. He found it very interesting. He continued to stare, unblinking and unmoved as he then saw himself with very long hair and a full beard as he watched his complexion change remarkably. He was now transfixed by the rapid sequence of changes his saw in his reflection as he then appeared to himself as he might look as a woman…and a rather beautiful one at that, only to watch that image also age into a wrinkled old crone.

By this point he found himself so fascinated by the progression of images that he had no intention of doing anything to interrupt it by blinking or moving. He was barely breathing at this point.

The parade of faces, all of them his, continued. Different ethnicities, sexes and ages; some appeared ancient, others alien or futuristic, but all of them recognizable to him as his.

Then the faces began to take on a non-human aspect. First a bird, then a dog, a dragon and other visages not even recognizable as any specific breed or species, and all of them nonetheless recognizable as being occupied by his spirit…he saw himself in all the faces, overwhelmed by the sense of connection and oneness with them all.

What took his breath away however was when he suddenly realized he was looking at his face as it would appear as a great ape, much like Frederick, yet distinctly recognizable to him as himself.

As he began to laugh, the images disappeared just as suddenly as they had begun, but the insight remained, enigmatic and prophetic within him.

“Time to go…” he mused.

He no longer cared that he was under the influence of a drug. In fact, he was grateful for the experience, even though he would never have willingly accepted it. If Merle was correct…and it had been his finding that he always was, since the drug could not be detected or traced, and was unknown to the rest of the world…even PharmaCorp, he was safe, and he felt safe, maybe for the first time in his life since he had left his parents’ home.

He realized that he had built his life, his career around an organization that could turn on him like sharks in a feeding frenzy, if it was deemed necessary for the greater good. His intelligence and his talents had protected him thus far, but in his circle anyone may be deemed expendable given the necessary circumstances. He knew this all along, but this was the first time in many years that he felt like he belonged exactly where he was, just the way he was.

There are intrinsic factors in many experiences that cannot be measured in watts, or volts, or even ergs, nor foot-pounds or roentgens, candlepower, or other known forms of measurement. For those who believe that all is measurable, repeatable and finite nothing else exists, but for those who can appreciate that which transcends words or measurement there are many worlds both beyond this one as well as within this one that can only be appreciated by experience, by those with just the right eyes…and consciousness.

Stanley Linderman was now a proud member of the latter group.

The (Luckiest) First Day in the Rest of Your Life

It was about that time that Frederick walked up to the two of them and signed “You can take me home now” to Stan, who pretended not to know its meaning, while still contemplating Anastasia as a lioness giving herself a cat-bath.

With that, Frederick slapped his forehead and wiped downward as he rolled his eyes.

“OK…do I have to go over to Darcy or Mark just to pretend you don’t know that I want to go home? Or maybe you haven’t noticed yet that I’m not still signing…that it’s just like I’m right next to you, whispering in your ear?”

Stan visibly stiffened and wheeled around to see who was speaking to him.

“Don’t lose it, old man…you’re fine…it’s me that’s out of the ordinary…I hope the James Jones vocal impression wasn’t too far over the top…I have different voices I like to project to humans…ones that are more likely to garner respect…can’t go off on some Jerry Lewis cartoon voice…you’d never take me seriously, right?

Stan shook his head in disbelief, frowning, his mouth slightly agape, which was not a good look for him. It completely blew his MIB/Intimidator demeanor, even if it was only for a second.

“Hey look, Stan…this may be a little too much for you to digest all at once, so I’m going to go over and tug on Darcy’s dress, or Mark coat tail, and sign for you to take me home…we’ve got plenty of time to let you get used to the new, improved me from now on.”

“Don’t stress out…we know who you are and what you’re doing here, and it’s OK, because we don’t have anything to hide…and neither do you…at least not from us…that prick Sebastian Galbraith Lodge may be another matter…but we are your friends…you’ll learn that soon enough.”

Stan stood completely still, then turned to Anastasia for support, or acknowledgement, or anything that might help him to feel like he wasn’t going crazy, but she simply smiled benignly and asked “Is everything OK?” even though she knew exactly what was happening.

The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was like that…Anastasia could no more read American Sign Language than she could Sanskrit…and it wasn’t so much a matter of reading Frederick’s mind per se as it was one of learning how to listen to the thoughts he was projecting, which admittedly he was very adept at doing, since most animals have some degree of telepathic abilities, and the great apes had by far the greatest and most well-developed skills in that area already, and whenever she took The Knowledge her telepathic abilities got a little better.

Although most chimps and bonobos do not possess the speech centers in Broca’s area to vocalize incessantly as humans do, their lack of dependence on spoken words allowed and even encouraged them to find other modes of expression previously undocumented scientifically.

Also, the hybridization of his chimpanzee and bonobo parents had resulted in an unusual restructuring of Frederick’s genetic map. As a result, his chromosomal structure very nearly replicated that of the first known hominids to branch off from the primates, known as Homo Habilis.

This was before he had ever ingested The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which mimics the doubling of the human SRGAP2 gene thought to be responsible for the process of encephalization in Man’s genetic evolution due to accelerated improvements in the neuron pathways of the frontal cortex.

And what it did for primates, it also did for humans, producing yet another Quantum Leap in Man’s evolution, both forward and backward, no longer requiring him to choose between Instinct and Reason.

Intelligence and Sentience are in many ways related, albeit independent of each other. Wisdom, and Insight, as well as Epiphanies or Instincts are not necessarily guaranteed by a high IQ.

At the Home for Wayward Souls, as well as during the occult studies that were conducted at the Habitat, it was found that as clearly and precisely as certain concepts were very effectively communicated by Frederick, from one human to another among the other test subjects charged with interpreting the meanings, it was found that there was a certain degree of variation in the perceived messages, depending upon certain personal biases and the emotional make-up of whoever was receiving Frederick’s communications.

In much the same way, the test subjects, including Mark and Darcy often described Frederick’s perceived voice differently. They almost always described it as deep and sonorous and very somber sounding, especially if he was trying to impress them, although he had seen a number of Jerry Lewis comedies from the fifties and sixties which he found to be hilarious, which he would occasionally mimic if he was feeling silly or playful.

Mark and Darcy had arranged to have cable TV installed in Frederick’s room, which had the effect of giving him a window to the world of human thought as well as behaviors.

He clearly lacked the ability to concentrate much effort on reading, since it was too time-consuming and labor-intensive to suit his disposition. In that respect, they sometimes wondered if he might have been better disposed to learn to read if they hadn’t introduced him to television first.

Often they would describe his voice as sounding like James Jones, David Attenborough, or Graham Green…(sometimes either the sagacious elder English author or the Native Oneida actor of the same name)…he liked the sounds of the voices of both, but had something of a preference for the throaty Indian sound of the latter’s voice.

He once told Merle that he felt a kinship for the Indian Peoples, who knew all too well what it was like to be treated as an animal, somehow inferior to White Men, unlike the indigenous aboriginal peoples of his continent, who admired and respected their animal cousins.

Merle suggested he not over-generalize about Indians too much, as it had been his finding that although some still followed the ancient ways and beliefs, far too many had fallen victim to materialism, racism, drunkenness, and despair, incapable of seeing Frederick as anything but a ‘monkey.’

All the same, some said he sounded like a minister or priest they knew as a child, or a teacher or principal from school, or even Moses, (whatever that meant).

Charles had even stated that he had been having an on-going dream for several years now where he found himself standing before some great judge; although he admitted he always awoke before the verdict and did not know who was being judged for what, Frederick’s voice often sounded like the voice in his dream.

Anastasia said he sounded like her grandfather’s voice, which she only barely remembered from her early childhood, but of whom she was very fond.

Frederick finally came back hand in hand between Mark and Darcy.

“He said he’s ready to go home…meaning The Habitat…he knows he can’t stay, even though it’s one of those nights you just don’t want to end….” said Darcy.

“You can say that again…hell it’s just getting started, if I have my way…” thought Anastasia, and at that moment, Mark, Darcy, Frederick and Stan all ‘heard’ her thoughts, which caused Stan to blush despite a very large grin that he was unable to suppress.

“I guess there’s no hiding anything amongst us tonight…just as well…we can cut to the chase and get moving or try to ignore the elephant in the room, but I vote we get this fellow to his bed” added Mark.

“…and I get you to mine, my dear lady…” which Stan may have thought for a minute was private until he suddenly realized everyone else was just as aware of as if he had said it out loud, causing a muffled chuckle by the others.

“Did I just say that, or only think it? What the fuck is going on?!? And am I really hearing their thoughts? Why do I think they already know what I am thinking?” Stan pondered, as his mind raced.

“Because we do know…and now you know that we know…because your brain just took a quantum leap across the abyss…you’re not losing your mind…far from it…you just discovered a whole new wing in your brain that you never knew existed…in a place before spoken words, where thoughts have wings.”

“Don’t try too hard to intellectualize about it right now. Everything will become apparent in its own good time, so just relax and enjoy the company of friends.”

Stan found himself staring into Frederick’s eyes, convinced that the words he was hearing were coming from the primate despite his rational, logical mind’s best efforts to convince him otherwise…to cause him to doubt what he knew in his heart (or soul, or wherever it is where beliefs and wisdom live independently of facts and logic).

“Did you give me drugs?” asked Stan, imploring both Anastasia and Frederick.

“Don’t think of it as a drug…think of it as the gift of sentience, more like a vitamin for your mind” replied Frederick. “The same awareness that allowed Man to make that quantum leap from his primate ancestry…the awareness that now allows me to communicate with you, as well as the others…the awareness that also gives you back the instincts you once traded for Reason.”

“For the first time in your life, your Intuition will be as strong as your Logic. You can straddle the Abyss with ease…and conviction. This is true Knowledge and Insight the likes of which you have never known before. It will take time for you to adjust to it, but it is not something that will leave you in the morning either…it will grow with you, and only those who possess this same Knowledge will even notice any difference, although others may sense the understanding and wisdom that you now possess, even if they don’t quite know what it is.”

“Some people regard the process as more like a form of post-hypnotic suggestion, facilitated by a molecule so powerful it does not even show up on a drug screen, because so little of it is required to achieve the effects.” Ash spoke the words to Stan softly, and with great compassion as he walked up to Stan.

Merle was now standing on Stan’s other side, the only person in the room tall enough to look down upon Stan, he laid his hand on Stan’s shoulder as he added “In fact, it does not even act as a drug per se, in that it does not combine specifically with anything in your body; instead, it acts as a catalyst that unlocks the release of chemicals already present in your brain while triggering the production of more of those neurotransmitter chemicals to an abundance far higher than what is considered normal, but which may well be present in higher quantities in people labeled as gifted or even as geniuses.”

“The more often you take it, the less you need to reach a threshold effect, and then it passes unchanged from your body in your breath along with nitrogen and carbon dioxide.”

“We would have never have encouraged Frederick to share this gift with you…not because we don’t like you, but because we don’t have the instincts quite yet that Frederick already has. It won’t affect your ability to drive or anything like that…it’s just this….”

“If you can relax long enough to feel the love and sense the beauty all around you will know everything you need to know…to look into the heart of those around you, both your friends as well as those who are not…. Frederick wanted to share the most precious gift he knows. We took a long time to decide to share it with him, and he has been studying you as a candidate since the first day he met you.”

“(Now can we please take me home so those two can get about their own monkey business and the honeymoon can get rolling for everyone else?)” Frederick outstretched his arms imploringly to the group who heartily agreed.

A TRYST WITH A TWIST

Now the next part of our story gets a bit tricky; I mean, imagine two people who are only marginally acquainted with each other, but who nonetheless can’t wait to be alone together because they are filled with salacious curiosity and lust after each other in ways that approach biblical proportions to an extent that they can’t stop fantasizing about the next move, who will do what, etc. etc., all the while clairvoyant of each other’s thoughts, courtesy of a drug called The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (which more than lives up to its moniker), chaperoned by an equally telepathic Chimpanzee/Bonobo hybrid.

Anastasia drove a fully-restored, customized 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 that had been a wedding gift from her husband. She was not fond of leaving it anywhere, but the Sanctuary was about the safest place she knew of, and there was no way she could have driven herself, Stan, and Frederick to the Habitat.

Fortunately, Stan used a company vehicle (a midnight-blue Ford Crown Victoria…what else would you expect from a G-man trying to look inconspicuous?) and it was adequate to the task at hand. Frederick sat in the back seat.

Anastasia slid in next to Stan, although he insisted she wear the center seat belt if she did. She was short enough that she did not obscure his view of the rear-view mirror, although he was somewhat uncomfortable with her stroking the top of his right thigh while he drove. She sensed that his entire body stiffened as soon as she touched him, although some parts stiffened considerably more than others….

(“Maybe I should put a little lipstick on his dipstick…”)

(“There’s no way I can drive if she does that…no way Bob!”)

(“You mean bob the knob?”)

(“No! I mean I don’t think I could concentrate on driving while you were doing that…not that I wouldn’t like a rain check as soon as we stop…”)

(“Well, then pull the car over before you pass out from all the blood draining from your big head to your not-so-little head…”)

(“You do realize I know everything that you two are thinking, right?), added Frederick (…but don’t hold back on account of me…I’m not one to judge or criticize…”).

Without turning around, they both knew he had ‘taken himself in hand,’ so to speak, and Anastasia found herself a little bit turned on by the prospect of imagining a monkey jerking off in the back seat while she blew Stanley in the front, but Stan would have no part of any of that, which disappointed Frederick a great deal more than it did Anastasia, although he did finish masturbating before Stan could stop him.

Anastasia was luridly fascinated and watched while Stan pulled the car over and made Frederick clean up the mess with a roll of paper towels he kept in the car.

(“Well, Dudley Do-Right…you really are prepared for everything, aren’t you?”) Anastasia jokingly replied. (So since we’re already stopped, I could help you with that stiff joint problem you seem to have developed…”)

“God Almighty already, Anastasia! I promise I will fuck your brains out as soon as we get rid of Frederick and get back to my place…OK? You can suck my cock as long and as much as you want, but I gotta get this monkey out of my back seat and delivered safely to The Habitat…” Stan was so flustered by Anastasia’s frank sexuality that he did not bother to realize he was actually speaking out loud, or that the guard at the entrance to The Center for Primate Research, aka The Habitat heard everything he said as they rolled up.

(“Hey! Who the fuck are you calling a monkey, you over-muscled jackass?!?!…It’s Bonanzee, in case you forgot….”)

“Sorry…” said Stan.

“Excuse me, Mr. Linderman?” The guard was trying very hard to keep a straight face as it was. “If you’re in a hurry, I can take Frederick the rest of the way to his habitat, if that will help, sir.”

“No, but thanks Williamson…” said Stan as he signed the list on the clipboard.

“Just trying to help, sir” said the guard as he winked to Stan.

“That will be all…but thanks.” Although Stan was more embarrassed than aggravated, he gave the guard a look that implored Williamson’s humanity not to repeat what he had heard but that nonetheless stressed what a bad idea it would be if he did.

Stan was generally a very jovial, likable man in many ways, if you were not the target for his role as Intimidator, but he also had the reputation of being a terrible enemy for anyone stupid enough to piss him off.

“Say no more sir…discretion is my middle name…you and your guest have a good evening.”

In less than five minutes time, Frederick was safely returned to his home, and Stan was ‘expediting’ his return to his abode with Anastasia at his side.

“…and by the way, Yes…” said Anastasia…“and No….”

“Excuse me?” said Stan.

“Yes, I can deepthroat and swallow, and it’s shaved as clean as a whistle, and eventually, I’ll probably let you do anal, if you’re a really good boy…and yes, I’ve been tested…negative by the way…and I’m very discreet…and no, I’m not wearing any panties and practically never do; no, you don’t have to worry about my husband…he’s not at all the jealous type and he’s out of the country for at least another month, so you don’t have to take me home until morning if you don’t want to…and yes, I intend to make sure you’re way too tired to even think about driving before noon, and yes I can make you the best breakfast you’ve ever had if I do stay, but no, I won’t get my feelings hurt if I don’t…remember…I can hear every thought you have.”

“OK, well…yes I am circumcised and fairly closely trimmed, but not shaved; no, I have never had a problem with premature ejaculation…yes I am sure you can make me cum several times before dawn…yes I’ve been tested…also negative, by the way, yes I love kissing, cunnilingus, and cuddling, and the scent of a woman. No, I don’t especially want to take you back any time soon…yes, I’d love for you to spend the night…two can play at this game, it seems.”

Stan was just then pulling into the parking space at his apartment building. He turned to kiss her before he even shut off the motor or the headlights, which seemed strangely out of character for him. They kissed deeply and passionately for several minutes and Anastasia unzipped his fly and started to stroke his cock before he could regain his composure enough to suggest they take the party upstairs, where he promised to show her a very, very good time.

He had barely finished locking the door before she had his cock in her mouth. He dropped his pants and picked her up, grabbing her ass and teasingly pushing his member against her sopping-wet cunt lips, parting them and pulling back just enough to spread them just a little more each time before he finally impaled her so deeply it took her breath away for a moment, even though she was well-prepared for the thrust that nearly made her cum right then and there.

She could feel the head of his generous manhood all the way back to that small pocket way past her uterus that felt like he was rubbing the base of her spine…there was no more room after that.

She remembered the Tantric reference to the Kundalini Gland as she felt waves of pleasure cascading up her chakras. He had a wide, flared corona that was considerably thicker than his generous shaft, and she could feel him filling the pocket with it, stretching it open farther that she thought possible.

She’d had three children and a very generous and accommodating, but tight pussy, but the majic pocket he found was bringing her over the edge quicker than she had thought possible.

He turned his back to the wall beside the door as she kicked her shoes off and placed her feet flat against the wall as he grabbed her buttocks and repeatedly slammed her down upon his cock. She began to push off from the wall with her feet and legs until he was almost completely withdrawn from her snatch before he forced his prick back into her all the way up to his balls, which she could hear slapping against her ass every time he thrusted into her.

She began to cum, and moaned with such a guttural animal sound that it surprised even her to hear it. He continued to violate her savagely, going even faster and harder than before…and she loved it.

She was cumming so hard that she knew he could feel it as her body was wracked with spasm after spasm. She was so wet that she could feel it pouring out of her and soaking his legs and his pants which were still around his ankles as she let go of her hold on his shoulders, arching her back as he held her aloft from behind her, fucking her furiously and continuously until she finally felt his throbbing cock spewing and gushing inside her as he held her tightly to him until he stopped, feeling his viscous semen flooding every nook and crevice of her cunt, flowing out of him and into her as it gushed past his slowly shrinking pleasure-pole.

He dropped to his knees and let her back rest on the floor as he slowly and gently stroked his cock in and out of her until it was completely flaccid as she spit it out of her with a final contraction.

He sat back and took off his shoes and pulled off his trousers. The next day they would have taken on the appearance of a heavily glazed French cruller, and would provoke a curious smirk from the dry cleaner who tried to pretend not to notice when he dropped them off on Monday.

Anastasia wanted a cigarette so badly she wished she could taste it, but she already knew Stan was a non-smoker. They rejoined to the bedroom, where she decided to slake her oral fixations on Stanley instead.

(“So what is ‘pegging’ I wonder?”) Stan mused as he recalled some random thoughts he intercepted shortly after their initial coupling.

“Yee Gads! You don’t miss much for someone only so recently clairvoyant…we can cross that bridge sometime in the future, OK? Now don’t make me start imagining old, naked lesbian nuns on the toilet just to get a little privacy….” Anastasia blurted out loud, realizing she was going to have to be more careful about her musings until she (and Stan) were better acquainted. She had a distinct impression that he would not bedown with that’(at least initially), and was somewhat surprised at how naive he was in such matters.

OK, but we need to have a truce about a few things…I already figured out your husband’s name is also Frederick, but you call him ‘Rick’…I don’t want to know what agency he works for and you can’t ask for whom I work. I may be new to reading minds, but I was trained in how to block thoughts and ideas from my mind in case I was captured and interrogated…not even under sodium thiopental, and we need to find ways to focus our imaginations on other things or it will get too complicated to enjoy each other’s company.”  Stan spoke softly as he stroked Anastasia’s hair while she laid her head on his stomach.

(“OK…I was taught not to talk with my mouth full, but we don’t need to worry about now, do we?”) She knew well enough he got the idea, however.

And for the rest of that night, well past dawn they kept their minds well occupied with other thoughts they were only too happy to share.

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON:

Frederick was conspicuous in his absence that night at the Sanctuary, but the mood of the group in general was so buoyed by the revelation of Darcy’s pregnancy that everyone there seemed to have a shared interest in her happiness and well-being, and this mood continued throughout the weeks that followed.

“If I only knew what kind of treatment I was going to get, I might have considered doing this on purpose a long time ago!” Darcy quipped.

As attentive to Darcy as Mark habitually was now every member of the group seemed to focus all of their attention and support to her.

Suki and Kali both seemed to hover at her elbows and were a seemingly endless source of massages, foot and back rubs, herbal teas and general pampering in a way that seems to come so naturally to some women. In this way, their sisterhood was enhanced as a natural bi-product that seemed to draw its energies from the lack of competitiveness or jealousy amongst the women, or for that matter, the men either.

Ash, Charles, and Merle likewise showed their support for Mark as well as Darcy. Rather than leave Mark feeling pushed out when the women surrounded Darcy, the men were able to distract Mark long enough to just let things happen.

It is all too customary for a solitary couple to loose themselves in the demands and dramas of a normal pregnancy, but they were able to balance the warm envelope of a sense of belonging to something larger than just themselves with the celebration of independence within this small group of individuals of common mind and purpose.

Mark and Darcy had decided they would get married within the month. They both had good healthcare insurance, but they figured this was a good time to embrace the obvious.

Ash finally acknowledged the giant elephant in the room long enough to simply state that as much as everyone in the group had committed themselves to higher mental and spiritual goals, a “Line Marriage” might be a logical and rational approach to giving legal and financial support to all the members of the group, including any new members…and most especially any new arrivals in the form of children.

In this way, this unforeseen but fortuitous event helped focus their attentions on the future of their way of life and beliefs, as well as their property.

Although Darcy’s current condition might be instrumental in helping to guide the members of the group in that direction, this would by no means be the sole determinant in deciding to take such a move at this time.

Collectively, both the Home for Wayward Souls as a non-profit limited legal corporation, including syndicated television rights, as well as Kali’s Tantric web site, had rendered Ash and Kali, quite wealthy; it is not at all an uncommon trend for corporate officers of non-profit organizations to earn very large salaries. If they defer initial salaries until after the corporate bills are paid for the first several years, the payoffs can be very sizable.

They both had had the foresight to hire themselves out to their own incorporations for seven-figure salaries from day one, agreeing to forestall payment (with interest) until such time as was financially feasible.

Ash and Kali wanted to be able to make that money available to anyone that they felt deserved it, without relinquishing large amounts of it in taxes (In much the same way that living trusts are set up every day in this country).

Healthcare benefits and retirement plans are available as small group insurers. It allows for the legal collective ownership of property and wealth among the living members of the family and sets up a hierarchy of leadership that allows for contingency plans in the event of contested successions.

Another quantum leap for the members of the group; all in less than a year’s time.

It was also unanimously voted to defer any DNA testing of the child. To single out one parent at the expense of the involvement of the others was deemed unnecessary and irrelevant. Once again, “the willing suspension of disbelief” was the operant principle. Happiness is a choice. This was an opportunity for everyone to be happy.

Mark was one of the strongest proponents of the choice, as was Darcy; by giving the other members of the group the opportunity for involvement and commitment according to their nature and abilities the women were also included as equally as if they had carried the child, just as the men were equally included without the necessity of singling out one male as the genetic biological father.

There have been numerous proponents of this type of marriage for many years; Robert Heinlein the science-fiction author was one of the first and most eloquent spokespersons for the concept.

Intriguingly, although no Western culture or society openly allows for a formal marriage between more than two people, polyamorous sexual unions are frequently not specifically prohibited and joint ownership of property within the structure of a corporation is perfectly legal.

The problem legally is that it is almost impossible to find anywhere in the world that will recognize the legality of various forms of group marriage or legally determined polyamorous relationships. It also goes without saying that in all of our myriad creative and imaginative ways of bonding and uniting people of common interest that specific labels, identities, and rules of engagement have a tendency to preclude individual interpretations of those boundaries, as well as their obligations and responsibilities.

To that end, let us just acknowledge that the group put almost all their creative talents into researching ways to circumvent the more litigious aspects of community property and polyamory into a viable and legally unassailable working model of libertarian functionality that did not choose to take on the religious ultra-right-wing Christian mainstream into battle, choosing rather to capitalize on the ambiguities and loopholes, if you will of our legal and civil systems to allow members of an incorporated financial entity to do as they pleased within the confines of their corporate campus, which was to be operated as a non-profit organization devoted to the research of creative methods of the pursuit of higher levels of common consciousness, social, and family educational structures.

Without adding an additional hundred-plus pages to this account, suffice it to say that the pursuit and research had a galvanizing effect on the group that surpassed even all their previous endeavors. In it, they were perfecting their own social structure and determinism with an eye for the future as well as the present. They did it logically and passionately at the same time, and in so doing, extended a moment into a lifetime union of Love and Logic balancing Romance upon Reason.

Once again, it was Homecoming Weekend and the Senior Prom all rolled into on endeavor…one mind. This was The Home for Wayward Souls at its best; when it allowed the members to focus the best of themselves onto a common goal with a common purpose, reaching one mind by way of the union of many minds.

As long as the financial and legal aspects of the corporation are sound, the private activities of the members of the corporation can remain private. It can be done, even in the state of Florida.

It was also mutually agreed to conduct a Wiccan Circle as the ceremonial rite to acknowledge the union of the members of the group. After some considerable debate, it was also agreed that Frederick be included as a member of the group within the Wiccan Circle as an acknowledgement of his celebration of sentience within their tribe.

This prompted some considerable discussion as to how the logistics of all this might be accomplished, now that Frederick was only allowed to leave the campus of the Habitat for Primate Research on Sundays, and with the accompaniment of Stanley Linderman.

There was an unknown quantity in terms of the limits of understanding and tolerance even Ash’s congregation might allow, as he had already talked (and acted) his way out of one congregation already.

Although it was true that he and Kali legally owned all rights and property of The Home for Wayward Souls, it was not their intention of become a congregation of less than a dozen members, nor was it their intention to become shackled by the mob rule of public opinion to determine how they should determine the nature and quality of the lives they were inventing for themselves on a moment-by-moment basis with their eyes nonetheless focused on their future.

The weeks turned into months as the process took its own sweet time in coming into fruition, much the same way as the swelling of Darcy’s belly foretold of new life emerging within the confines of their own familial community.

NOT EXACTLY YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON (cont.)

When people dream of fantasy honeymoons they may envision Hawaii, or perhaps Rio, maybe Cancun, or the French Riviera, Thailand, Greece, Italy, or even a world cruise when in fact they are lucky if they can afford the Poconos, Orlando, Laughlin, Nevada, or Wildwood, New Jersey.

Ten days to a month does not sound like enough time to celebrate the union of two people so in love with each other that they would pledge to spend their collective lifetimes together.

Ash and Kali could have easily afforded to send Mark and Darcy anywhere for as long as they wanted, but this marriage was more than just two people in love. Besides the fact that neither of them really wanted to leave the Habitat right now for any significant length of time, or the fact that they had also wedded six others, and the truth was that no matter where they went, the Ancient Ones would be with them.

If you find yourself wondering why these communions with spirits from the other side of the abyss represent such a quest, the chances are that you yourself have never had the experience.

If you ask an affeciando of cannabis why they partake, their answers will sound vague, nebulous, and unconvincing because you are asking them to describe something outside their usual experiences…something that exists outside the realm of conventional logic and nominal values. My personal favorite is “It just makes everything better…”

Not all experience exists within the finite, the real, the rational, or the logical. It is in fact, that which transcends those boundaries that has the greatest appeal to those who seek something more.

Objectivity for its own sake denies the existence of the subjective values and experiences that enrich our lives in ways that do not require objectification.

What is real on a personal level is as real as anyone needs for their own benefit, and the only way to know those experiences is to experience them for yourself.

It’s like asking yourself what is Love, or what good is Love?

If you have had the experience, no explanation is necessary…if you have not, none will suffice.

There is no end of people who insist that if they can’t measure it, it therefore does not exist. If you try to measure an EKG or an EEG with a barometer or a volt-ohm meter and get no readings it does not mean that those impulses do not exist.

You would probably get better results trying to measure their brain activity with a tire pressure gauge.

Even in polyamorous relationships there are usually primary bonds between individual couples that take precedence over their relationships with the rest of the group. Those other relationships balance and enhance the primary one in either group or line marriage.

The intimacy and privacy of simple monogamy is often more of a myth than a reality once the walls and barriers to communications start to build up. Because of the establishment of secondary lines of communication the likelihood of the tyranny of one partner over another is lessened.

In simple monogamy, it is not uncommon for one member to attempt to ‘put one over’ on the other, and act like this is normal or reasonable and get away with it. Anger, silence or simple non-cooperation is less effective as a tool of manipulation when there are other witnesses.

In a setting like group marriage, it sometimes seems like every day is group therapy.

Forbidden topics do not exist. Discussions are essentially never closed forever. Bullies do not fare well in group discussions and unreasonable demands or points of view are more likely to be challenged.

This may be the reason that divorce is almost unheard of in group marriage and infidelity is rare, although admittedly, group marriage is also frequently not recorded in the first place, but among those that have been they would appear to be more stable than simple monogamy.

As the members of the group finally got away to the Rectory, the Ancient ones followed en masse as it looked like a bizarre paranormal parade to those with the right eyes.

Darcy had decided and Merle concurred that it would be best for her to stop taking the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil while she was pregnant, although she found that when she was with the group she experienced many of the same visions and insights as if she had taken it.

Merle conceded that it did not only appear that the effects were cumulative, but also persistent in terms of heightened sentience and improved access to all previous experiences. It was as if they received refreshment and reinforcement of the synapses and neuroconduction pathways for the table of contents of their random access memories.

Everyone else was fully charged and buzzed and even Darcy could see the luminance of her persona as a visible aura that undulated like the Aurora Borealis.

Tonight, all attentions were focused on both her and Mark who were clearly the stars of the show.

The primary unions of Ash, Kali and Merle as well as Charles and Suki seemed to buoy Mark and Darcy in a soft parade of pleasure and sensuality.

More traditional conventions and conceits of privacy were not necessary in such a setting because there was no shortage of intimacy.

Whatever garments they were still wearing were quickly shed as Suki took the lead in stripping everyone else in a most provocative and playful manner so typical of her boldly engaging ways.

As they stood together fondling and caressing each other, to the surprise of all in attendance the Ancient Ones started to do the Bandaloop Dance to the sounds of the ArchAngels emanating from the Sanctuary, who were still performing for those at the reception.

In addition, all the members of the group could hear a distinct polyrhythmic accompaniment in their heads that seemed to lead the Ancient Ones in their dance.

With that, Merle, Ash Charles and Mark lifted up Darcy to place her on a large round sofa in the center of the room. The music, the rhythms and the Dance continued, as Kali and Suki began to light incense, set up a caldron for scrying, and light the fire in the fireplace.

Despite the prodigious swelling of her belly, Darcy still looked lithe and slender of limb. Her six feet of height seemed to exaggerate the effects of her pregnancy on her stomach and breasts.

There is something wonderful and marvelous about the hormones of pregnancy.

Beyond the glow, and the ripe fullness of impending delivery of new life, the pendulous fullness of breasts, the swollen puffiness of the aureoles, the insistent protrusions of the nipples, the distension and enlargement of the vulva, labia and clitoris, or the round, taught swelling of the belly, there is a darkly compulsive sexual drive that seems to overtake women sometime in their third trimester.

Some who are not capable of embracing it with comfort will become secretive, angry and demanding. It is a lucky man indeed who is blessed by the company of a woman who, awash in the hormones of pregnancy and overcome with lust and passion riding wave after wave of newfound obsessions and heretofore unknown, almost boundless levels of carnal desire, trusts him enough to share them.

Some women lost in lust discover that their spouses are alarmed and intimidated by the sheer magnitude of their desire. Darcy was one of the lucky ones that wasn’t. Fortunately both Kali and Suki were also understanding and supportive as well, encouraging her to avail herself of their husbands as needed or Mark might not have survived Darcy’s appetite for semen. 

Merle was the most frequent target of Darcy’s lust and Mark had been the first to encourage her to slake her seemingly insatiable desires with Merle, lest she drain Ash and Charles as completely as she seemed to do with Mark.

Merle was the prototype for all manner of sexual fantasy for almost any woman. His size, his stamina and general sexual prowess were legendary. For a man of such length and girth he was remarkably sensitive to Darcy’s lust while still maintaining discretion and moderation so as not to injure her, or the child.

As her pregnancy progressed she frequently indulged herself by having Merle finish in her mouth so as to swallow the enormous quantities of semen he produced when he ejaculated. She also liked to perform cunnilingus on Suki and Kali during or after they were being fucked. There seemed to be no end to her desire or imagination.

Tonight she would consummate and consume on a level heretofore unknown to even her, and all of it with the blessings and support of the other members of the group.

For anyone driven by the desire to seduce the mate of another, imagine the exhilaration of doing it with the full support and encouragement of all parties involved.

Those who follow the discipline of Tantric are familiar with the concept of Sacred Sex and tonight their passions were fueled by worshipful support aided by spirits from the other side of the abyss.

The energy and insight of experiencing a previously disembodied soul acting out within one’s body is nearly indescribable. It often starts with a sensation not unlike a hobo jumping into a moving boxcar, where the members of the group are the train.

Followers of Santeria and the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye have practiced this ritual for centuries, with roots going back to African religious rites.

These powerful spirits seek physical bodies to act out their desires, and those who provide their bodies reap enormous inspiration and escape from the experience. This is but one of many paths leading to sexual and spiritual bliss through unions with many disembodied wayward souls of tremendous power and wisdom.

Some would call them Gods. Some regard them as objects of worship. These members of the Home for Wayward Souls regarded them as welcome houseguests and guides for spiritual and sexual symbiosis.

Suddenly all eyes turned to the fire, which took on the appearance of a vision of Darcy doing the Bandaloop Dance with Mark and Frederick surrounded by literally hundreds of primates who followed her every movement in precision as if she was their queen, their goddess.

 Their numbers grew as the vision progressed until they were shoulder to shoulder all the way to the horizon.

Ash, Kali, and Merle had witnessed a similar more singular vision when they were instructed by Boop-Oopa-Doop (aka Betty) to seek additional members to complete their group.

From the mists of the cauldron arose a vision of what started as a swirling Yin and Yang symbol that transformed into two children, a male and a female.

With that, Darcy’s belly seemed to glow with an inner transparency until it looked as if you could see two developing babies within her womb.

NOT YOUR GRANDPARENTS’ HONEYMOON II

All eyes were focused on Darcy as they continued to observe the pulsating glow that emanated from the two babies growing within her belly.

Kali and Suki were the first to gently touch and rub Darcy’s abdomen, followed by Mark who gently kissed the taught, seemingly transparent skin that seemed to be unable to hide the twins growing within her.

Because they had been reluctant to learn the gender of her child, they had repeatedly postponed the sonogram that would have also revealed the plurality within her. It seemed ironic that two people who had devoted their lives to scientific research would choose ignorance over inquiry, but it was not so much a matter of a choice as a subconscious avoidance.

As much as the satiation of curiosity was endemic to their collective natures, it is perhaps not surprising that they desired a certain degree of purposeful mystery to shroud her pregnancy and impending delivery.

As humans we are not always logically consistent regarding the full spectrum of our logical and emotional make-up. Although the Scientist desires to know all, the Romantic embraces the mystery that conflicts with full disclosure.

Darcy was in no way negligent in seeking prenatal care, but inadvertently in subconsciously avoiding knowing the sex of her child, she had also missed learning of the existence of a second entity. It just never occurred to any of them until now, and the twins had not yet chosen to force their presence upon them before this moment.

Although there had as of that moment been no scientific confirmation of the presence of twins, at that moment they knew it to be true because they believed it to be true, courtesy of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Tears of joy streamed from Darcy’s eyes, as well as the others as they gently and almost reverently touched and embraced her.

As Mark and Darcy stared deeply into each other’s eyes, they both said “I love you so much!” almost simultaneously.

Charles was by far the most emotionally distant of the group to all but Suki, although as they stood facing each other as Suki gently touched Darcy’s breasts, Charles lovingly touched Darcy’s face and said “You are so beautiful…I love you.”

This almost took Darcy’s breath away, as Charles had never actually spoken those words directly to her before. Although he was demonstratively very affectionate in all of his contact with her, it often took on the air of an almost fatherly manner, much the same as his interactions with Mark.

Charles had often described his relationship with Suki as a ‘Limited Polyamory’ because insofar as they were concerned, Suki insisted she should be considered the ‘Alpha Bitch’ in all interactions with either her or Charles both separately or independently.

Although Charles was in no way what you would describe as submissive by nature, it was his finding that when he indulged Suki in her need to ‘call the shots’ so to speak, she was much less likely to succumb to jealousy or possessiveness, and frequently surprised Charles with her magnanimity and generosity of spirit.

Also, because they now generally limited their pursuit of Polyamory to the other members of their group it was easier for Suki to cope with any real or imagined territorial issues.

In that respect, she and Kali and Darcy regarded each other as equals.

Similarly, Merle enjoyed Darcy’s infatuation with an air of ‘detached compassion’ that allowed her to indulge herself in her fantasies about him without evoking any insecurities within Mark, who was remarkably self-assured and well-adjusted and usually not the least bit jealous.

Although Mark was no wallflower by any means it was difficult for any man to not feel eclipsed by Merle’s presence. Darcy did her best to moderate her enthusiasm regarding her attraction for Merle.

There was no denying that she was wet-hot for Merle, but she truly loved Mark in a way she had never before known with any other man. They were both special to each other in a way that was unique for them.

Darcy was also very much aware of Mark’s life-long crush on Kali…hell, anyone with a pulse and a blood pressure and anything over a room-temperature IQ could not help noticing how Mark adored her.

Whenever Darcy felt a twinge of jealousy, she reminded herself how that must be the way Mark feels about her and Merle.

Kali very much liked how she felt when she indulged Mark in all manner of sexual pleasure.

It was good to enjoy the almost worshipful adoration that Mark bestowed upon her. She never felt quite as beautiful and charming as when Mark was lavishing her with affection and gratitude.

At least once in their life everyone should know what it feels like for someone else to think you are beautiful, charming and brilliant as if they are star-struck by every aspect of your being. To be adored and desired without reservation and overcome by grateful wonderment for the good fortune to be in your company.

Ash had remarked more than once that Mark helped remind him what a lucky man he was, and Suki was particularly fond of Ash’s Arian/Nordic features and finely sculpted body.

Although Charles was quite familiar and affectionate with both Kali and Darcy, he often stated that he generally had his hands full just keeping up with Suki’s seemingly insatiable desires, and ever since his relationship with Jennifer tanked, he had become a little distant with most women other than Suki until very recently.

Lately Suki had been corresponding with a woman who wrote a byline for a magazine that specialized in Kink/Fet articles and features. Eventually, she did an interview with Suki and Charles in their home. The two women bonded almost instantly, and soon became lovers as well as fast friends.

Anastasia was also quite attracted to Charles, so it seemed only natural when Suki suggested a ménage a trois, which Charles heartily endorsed as well. They quickly developed into a triad that was now turning into a source of discussion among the other members of the group shortly before the decision was made that they all incorporate into a Line Marriage.

It wasn’t that there was any rule or prohibition against it, but the last year they had been more or less exclusive within their circle of eight that was based more or less upon their spiritual pursuits in addition to their practice of Polyamory.

Suki had already suggested that Anastasia be included, and the group had agreed to discuss it further in the very near future. Charles and Suki were quite convinced that once the rest of the group got to know her, she would become a welcome addition to their circle of friends, if not actual ‘family.’

She was however, married to a devoted, indulgent and supportive man who encouraged her to follow her instincts as well as her dreams. She often spoke lovingly of him, but because he traveled extensively as a part of his career, he was often gone, and no one in the group had gotten the opportunity to meet him yet.

Although Anastasia, Merle and Frederick could function more like ‘free agents’ who did not belong to a primary relationship within the group, Kali countered that Merle had been for all intents and purposes attached to the primary relationship between her and Ash for so long that they were already a primary triad, and Anastasia’s addition to the group would help balance the rest of the group in much the same way that Merle had.

Kali was already quite fond of Anastasia as well. She had shown herself to be one of the most naturally provocative and engaging people Kali had ever met.

Anastasia was also working on a feature profile on Kali because of her incredibly successful website on Spiritual Eroticism and Religious Sexuality.

Suki had introduced the two of them a few weeks before the wedding, and the article was slated for publication next month. The afternoon of the interview had proven to be a very enriching bonding of like minds and spirits.

She had been invited to the wedding as well as the reception; that was the first time Darcy had met her, and she too found her to be remarkably engaging and attractive.

It was as if the stars were aligning themselves for the benefit of the group, or perhaps they were each just recognizing how simple and easy it is to function like some kind of magical semiconductor that interpolated, matched and integrated itself with whatever opportunities they encountered.

Somehow answers no longer required questions to justify themselves; resolutions became apparent without the necessity of conflict to reinforce or create their perception of need.

Unspoken knowledge of interconnected solutions seemed to point to some universal factorial that led to an ever-increasing simplicity as obvious as the smile on your face.

They had the good sense to realize that Evil still existed, but for now they also were developing the good Karma to escape the clutches of its attractive force without having to engage it in battle.

At each juncture a staggering number of omens and signs presented themselves in heretofore new ways without the customarily endless mind-boggling series of consequences.

Challenges became regarded as opportunities impatient to do their bidding for the simple cost of recognition and resolve.

As always, impermanence, danger and sorrow still abounded almost everywhere else they looked, just as it always had…just not here, and not now, and not for them.

Their ever-present never-present present moment was joyous and full of love and incredible richness right here, right now just as it always had been, (even if the present moment didn’t really exist in the first place).

WE ALL BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE TABLE

So consider for a moment what is represented by this primary union of individuals within the Home for Wayward Souls.

Ash is in his early thirties. He is handsome and physically fit. He represents a fusion of theologian and showman, an entertainer who desires to bring higher consciousness and spiritual union to an audience. He is as drawn to providing exposure to a diverse range of ideas and influences as he is to eschewing dogma and doctrine.

His wife Kali is a little older and in her early forties although she looks much younger. She is the Earth Mother; the high priestess of Sacred Sex and cunning practitioner of the knowledge and wisdom of Wicca. She is soft and feminine and her body is a lavishly lurid testament to the sexual superiority of women and the power of the Moon.

Merle is the preternaturally tall lanky, and enormous embodiment of all things masculine although he also possesses an occult fascination with women’s apparel, especially their undergarments. He is a shaman, a chemist, a botanist and archetypical prototype of the aboriginal peoples of what is now called America. He is predominantly Apache although he admits to a white Spanish ancestor far back in his lineage. He is the magician and medicine man of the family; the sorcerer and brujo of the chemistry of the body and mind. He is also in his early thirties and the third leg of the triad of Ash, Kali, and himself.

Suki is forty; the child-bride of Charles. She is the unlikely combination of a powerful Eastern-European warlock and a Japanese Tsukimono-suji (white witch). Once a lean and athletic hard-body, a seemingly endless series of health problems, childbearing and the complacency of a decade and a half of marriage left her overweight and out of shape as her libido took a nosedive.

Because of their parents’ association with each other, she had known Charles all her life and had a life-long crush on him despite the fact that he treated her more like a baby sister until years later when they met at a family reunion.

They both had been ‘swingers’ both before and after they fell in love as adults until she seemed to lose all interest in sex.

Charles’ infatuation with Jennifer had reawakened her from her long winter’s hibernation as she exercised  and dieted her way back to fitness before she met Gerard, who reawakened her sexuality and vitality as well as opening her eyes to the benefits of Polyamory, despite his monolithic desire to possess her completely.

Charles was the worldly designated elder of their family of eight. He had a rapacious desire for all manner of knowledge with an uncanny ability to ‘connect the dots’ of seemingly unrelated semantic memory  and vast personal experiences.

He had either received training or worked at one point or another in so many different and seemingly unrelated occupations that it was difficult to imagine how he had managed to acquire so much experience in his sixty-plus years, especially because few people would have guessed him to be over fifty. He looked distinguished and mature despite his compulsively iconoclastic and mischievous behaviors.

He was Ash’s right hand man and jack of all trades who not only helped engineer and bring to fruition many of Ash’s wildest schemes, but frequently came up with a great deal of creative inspiration of his own. He was a catalyst for almost everything that took place within the Home for Wayward Souls.

He often described himself as a “pervert’s pervert” and “something of an acquired taste like Scotch whiskey, Cuban cigars or anal sex” which was a marked contrast to Suki’s almost instantly likable, outgoing and social nature.

For the last eight years he had worked as a telemarketer. It was supposed to just be a summer job until something better came along. Because of his involvement with The Home for Wayward Souls, he really didn’t care if something did…for the first time in many years, what he did for a living…for money…was not the most important work in his life, no matter how good he got at doing it.

Darcy was a thoroughly Southern thirty-something gal who had been around the block a few times, the sadder-but wiser woman who had risen above her working-class background of alcoholism, and the seemingly endless line of men who would limit and betray her until she got straight and became first a veterinary technician, then went on to college to become an animal behaviorist.

She was still working on her master’s degree when she met and fell in love with Mark while working at the Habitat.

She was tall, blonde, thin and pretty. Even pregnant. Being almost six feet tall herself, she was very much attracted to Merle, who was the only man she had ever been with who towered over her. She became infatuated with his enormous uncircumcised cock and the way it made her feel like he was going to split her apart as she encouraged him to violate her savagely.

Her advanced state of pregnancy lately had required considerable discretion on Merle’s part as well as hers.

And just to round out their perspective as well as teach them how to communicate without words we have Frederick, a Chimpanzee/Bonobo hybrid who insisted on being called a Bonanzee. His DNA structure had somehow crossed the abyss of non-human primates and closely resembled the first known hominids that later became Man.

Even before he was given The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he was the most sentient of primates other than man, and to all knowledge, the only one of his kind.

He taught them of the chimpanzee legend of the Origin of Man and how they had made the Great Eurasian Leap Forward during the Upper Paleolithic Revolution by way of interbreeding with aliens who came to Earth to give them something that resembled The Knowledge, thereby imparting sentience to ‘The Talking Monkeys.’

This group of eight had been a self-sustaining family of sorts for months now, long before their group marriage would have seemed to close the circle. As much as all of them had engaged in various polyamorous adventures on their own before they became The Eight, including a great deal of casual swinging, they had become a close-knit but closed society that had not been breached for nearly a year.

Once again, we see how rules are made to be bent, if not broken. For every absolute, there is an exception out there waiting to make itself known and with which there will come a day of reckoning.

Anastasia had described herself as “…bent, but not broken” as she had also described Suki, her new lover. Even before they met, they both sensed a chemistry between them that is not often seen in ostensibly heterosexual women who most definitely preferred men but were not afraid to acknowledge what seemed to come so naturally to them.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they quickly added Charles to the mix, although he jokingly remarked how he was simply there “to lend an air of respectability to this otherwise unsavory and disreputable group.”

Anastasia was a retired (disabled) ob/gyn nurse who was trying to break into free-lance journalism. Fortunately, her husband supported her efforts, lest she starve, as assignments were few and far between…especially ones that actually paid spendable currency of the realm.

She started doing research regarding the Kink/Fet community for a bi-line she was trying to sell to a magazine publisher because somewhere she had read that one should write about what you know, and what she didn’t already know she was curious and anxious to learn.

As they all lived in Florida and were close enough to represent less than a day’s drive, a friend of a friend had told her about Charles, Suki, and their activities and shenanigans and thought it might be a good way to ‘get inside’ their community.

Her paternal grandfather was Sicilian and her grandmother was Lakota Oglala and Brule Sioux. She described her mother’s family as “a bowl of mixed nuts” from all over Europe and South America.

She had lived with her Sioux grandmother since she was twelve years old after her parents divorced and learned the ways of the medicine woman while in her care and considered her ethnicity to be Indian, but did not like to discuss her childhood except for her memories of her Grandmother.

She disliked ethnic labels and stereotypes in general and about Sicilians and Indians in particular, and for years was likewise very closed about sharing her knowledge and practice of Wicca, preferring to be an anonymous solitary practicing witch.

She had a lion’s mane of thick dark hair that she often dyed with henna because she liked the way it brought out the red highlights.

She had the deepest, darkest, most soulful eyes Charles had ever seen. They were kind, loving, sad, and mischievous almost all at once. You could lose yourself in them if you weren’t careful, and she frequently encouraged many to revel in reckless abandon, like the imp of the perverse she embraced.

She was ever-so slightly full of figure, the most mature of them, soft of heart and immense of soul, so much like Kali, that it wasn’t long before she had charmed the Dark Mother too . She was a woman’s woman in every sense no matter how much she liked ‘the boys’ as well.

To watch her care for Darcy either as a nurse or as a mother to a mother-to-be was to give witness to something at once both beautiful and primordial enough to make you smile just to cover the lump in your throat (and if that’s not enough to bring a tear to your eye, I’d say you’ve got spit for blood).

Anastasia was the lioness of the pride, and Darcy was the cheetah with cub. To see them together you’d be convinced they had been cats together before in a previous life. It had been agreed she would serve as mid-wife when the time came.

Charles described Suki and Anastasia discovering each other as being “…like suddenly finding a ripe peach in your refrigerator that you never even knew you had when you were really hungry and would have settled for half a microwaved burrito if one had been there..”

The women encouraged and energized each other in a way that inspired and provoked Charles in ways he had not experienced in many years.

For the three of them, this was heaven. Since weekends were best for the three of them, it had become accepted that Anastasia was their mutual ‘plus one’ for any activities at The Home for Wayward Souls, and she was instantly accepted by virtue of Charles and Suki’s endorsement with the understanding that at least for now, she was their guest.

When she would come to visit she would move in for no more than three days at a time. She said she had good reasons for her seventy-two hour honeymoon curfew, but never got around to really explaining them.

They were generally too busy until they were too exhausted to get around to such discussions, and by the time they were ready, she was already ‘gone like a cool breeze….’

“Leave them gasping for breath and begging for more before they even know where you came from or where you went…a little mystery is good for the both of them…they have security and familiarity, and I have spontaneity  and the enigma of all the women behind the all the veils.”

“I am the other woman that both of them seek because I know of what they dream and know that they will love me when I give them my very self, spun from the stuff of which their dreams are made.”

Anastasia was not boasting. If all went well, she would be back for good one day, and then they could discuss her former reasons at length. Once she had gotten ‘inside’ she no longer wanted to go anywhere else.

And it was good…like the way God said at the end of each day when he said:  “… And it was good…” …it was very, very good.

No matter how much they brought to their table, there was plenty of room, with a place always set for Elijah, lest no wayward traveler go hungry or without shelter during this their time of feasting upon all manner of things.

The Rules of Engagement: 

The only place where true freedom can be properly enjoyed is on the frontier. Davey Crocket is reputed to have said that when he had to carry his firewood farther than he cared to just to get it back to his cabin, it was time to move.

For many people, the encroachment of what passes for nominal civilization is directly proportional to the limitations placed upon their behaviors and actions based largely upon the ratio of residents per capita per mile.

For some, this poses no real dilemma if they are not predisposed to desiring to walk about their property nude, own large working-breed dogs, work on high-performance automobiles, play music at high volumes or discharge firearms, especially if any of this is done late at night, especially late at night.

Some of us require large amounts of insular space around us; we may necessitate it to protect others from the potential shocks of proximity to some of the more extreme, ruder or more intense bi-products of our lifestyles and tastes, and at the same time, we may ourselves require solitude for contemplation and cultivation of our creative impulses, devoid of the distractions of city life.

Others crave companionship, fellowship and a sense of belonging. They may be fearful of either loneliness or the intrusions that nature often makes against our intrusions into their realm. They crave the pulse of a city that never sleeps and the press of the crowd.

If you are fond of Thai food, Sushi, or other exotic cuisines, the theater, opera, cinema, and other bi-products of our culture, lavish high-rise apartments, or feel the need to be protected by the police or fear being more than six minutes from emergency medical rescue and cutting-edge medical facilities, you will be forced to make certain choices and concessions regarding your personal freedoms and civil liberties.

It is the nature of a society that the more that you require of it, the more it demands of you. Self-determinism is essentially at odds with high concentrations of population, all-inclusive social welfare, and the norms that a highly evolved interdependent civilization imposes in terms of conformity and adherence to limitations and expectations of acceptable behaviors.

There are all kinds of frontiers. Most of the above-listed references have to do with the physical proximity of people, which largely seems to determine how much conformity and adherence to regulations are required of them.

But there are other frontiers as well. And whether you live in Manhattan, Los Angeles, or a simple cabin in the woods in Florida, it makes no difference if you are in a rural or urban environment, although the issue of proximity still remains a crucial factor in an entirely different way. It has to do with what boundaries and limitations are placed upon our interactions with the significant others in our lives.

Simple monogamy is by far the most common norm in virtually all societies in recorded history. Its limitations are clear-cut, if not easy to follow. For most people, it is the only way they can even imagine determining their actions, or their feelings.

Polyamory is by comparison a broad and expansive concept that by definition simply means to love more than one person. It is not a new concept. Just within the last three hundred years there have been a number of utopian free-love societies that were large enough and sufficiently public to attract the attentions of the world at that particular time as well as famous people who have espoused its virtues.

Notoriety has been the undoing of many an author, artist or free-thinker. We are conditioned to seek fame and recognition despite the fact that real freedom is much like the perfect crime that is only perfect so long as it goes unnoticed and remains anonymous.

Modern free-thinking adults have few roadmaps to guide their behaviors, least of all our parents’ marriages. Once you step off the end of the dock of simple monogamy it is easy to be swept away by the current of the broad and expansive river of Polyamory.

While it is useful to elicit the guidance of others of similar interests, all too often those who claim to have the inside track on any subject that is off the beaten path are just as likely to become demagogues of their own beliefs as those whom they claim to aspire to reject.

Somewhere there has to be a median between rejecting all standards and modes of behavior without regard to the council and advice of those who have had some documented level of success in their endeavors and mindless conformity with yet another set of rules, definitions, and pre-determined modes of behavior and actions.

Polygamy, polygyny, and polyandry are illegal in all fifty states. Period. Because marriage is largely a religious-based concept, anything other than heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman will continue to face a barrage of social encumbrances certain to thwart the pursuit of happiness by those who seek it.

Even after its recognition and stamp of legitimacy in the courts, societal acceptance has proven to be a long and hard-fought battle.

The emergence of civil unions as legally recognized institutions devoid of the claptrap of Judeo-Christian religious morality opens a viable crack in the seemingly impenetrable wall of resistance to more enlightened and less limiting forms of familial structure.

It is possible, for instance to set up what effectively constitutes a group marriage or line marriage as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation devoted to the pursuit and study of alternative forms and styles of living or higher consciousness so as to grant the same degree of legal and financial support and recognition to all its members as to those afforded any simple monogamous union.

This includes joint ownership of property, healthcare insurance, and the ability to pass on wealth and property to the rest of your family without facing inheritance taxes, as well as creating a familial lineage of people of common mind and purpose regarding non-traditional family values.

This concept is pure genius in that it capitalizes on everything that allows an individual to thwart the otherwise repressive and stultifying socio-political atmosphere that our society has come to represent and do it with impunity.

There are also a number of publications devoted to the pursuit of Polyamory and social organizations designed to support and encourage its practice.

Support groups and advice have the potential to empower people of like mind who face endless derision and resistance from those who feel the need to oppose them because they believe that their mere existence threatens their own way of life.

Sometimes it is comforting just to know you are not alone.

On the one hand, there are many of us who fundamentally are predisposed to reject labels and rules that would limit and artificially define who we are or what we are supposed or expected to do or be.

On the other hand, there is safety in numbers. Advice and opinions can be useful knowledge to allow each of us to make up our own minds and chart our own course so long as it still allows for the individuality most of us seek to express as we endeavor to discover our own perfect world.

Whether you simply seek a triad or quad to enhance and expand the parameters of your love life or desire the acceptance of your mate to pursue a relationship with a ‘work-spouse’ or even a non-sexual ‘special friend’ for whom you have deep and abiding feelings and understanding without jealousy or desire the community of some form of group or line marriage, once you make that conscious choice to leave the conventional limitations of simple monogamy the range of choices available is as diverse as the difference between a monochromatic, mono-tonal existence set to a 4/4 march beat like a Roman galley-slave and a full spectrum of polyrhythmic polyphonic polytonal living color. The choice is yours.

Life is a giant covered-dish pot-luck smorgasbord, and we all bring something different to the table.

WATCHING THE DAYS GO BY PT. II

It may be hard to imagine how life at The Home for Wayward Souls could ever be routine, but relative to what the group had become accustomed, even consciousness expansion, group marriage, and regular visitations from The Ancient Ones took on a pattern and a rhythm that was in many ways regular and relatively predictable.

The popularity of the televised programs as well as Kali’s web site subscriptions had gone world-wide and the revenues were becoming so huge that it took a full-time team of attorneys and accountants just to manage the funds, and still maintain a not-for-profit status by charitable funding and re-investments in enterprises related to the stated purposes of the corporation.

Stan went through a few changes regarding Anastasia. He was not comfortable with what he referred to as ‘swinging’ with Charles and Suki when he was with Anastasia. Anastasia had taken The Knowledge several times with the rest of the members of the group, and was in fact the only ‘outsider’ that had been allowed to participate with the group, and he was starting to have some issues regarding jealousy over her in general.He accepted her relationship with her husband, but for him, there were too many extras regarding her other relationships.

She and Stan took The Knowledge (willingly) several times after that together and Stan was quite enthused about the results. He knew that if Sebastian were to learn of it, the results would have been disastrous for his career, but he also was beginning to see a side of S.G. Lodge that was more reprehensible than he thought possible, but he was able to keep it to himself.

His insight and intuition had given him a large lead over his supervisor that enabled him to see several moves past him.

They knew that The Home for Wayward Souls was under investigation by The Management, but he was not willing to disclose what government agency was behind it. He apologized for not being able to reveal more, but he did promise to keep them appraised of anything they really needed to know, and did indicate that he also was withholding most of the more private aspects of the lives of the members of the group in respect to matters that did not in reality involve national security, which essentially meant he told them very little, except in general terms that they did not attempt to hide in the first place.

Then one day his supervisor called him into his office and told him he was to terminate his ’involvement’ with Anastasia, explaining that her husband was also under the employ of the DOD, and his ‘affair’ with her was unacceptable. He knew better than to argue, but his heart broke a little in the process.

Although Anastasia was quite disappointed, and although she did not know that Stanley also worked for the DOD, she accepted the fact that his orders came from above that he had concerns for his continued assignment to THFWS if he did not comply with direct orders.

Just the same, the passion between the two of them was incredible, and given his extraordinary prowess in the standing position, she became a regular at Sunday services whenever her husband was away, and there was no shortage of places they could steal away for a fast fuck when they felt inclined, which was usually whenever the two of them were in the same building.

At the same time, her involvement with Charles and Suki was taking a real upswing that kept her too busy between an occasional absentee husband and her frolics with Charles and Suki to be overwhelmed by the prohibition of public involvement with Stan.

There was trouble brewing at the Center for Primate Research however. By this point, all the Chimps and Bonobos had been given several doses of The Fruit of the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, and with enlightenment there often comes more than a few bumps in the road.

For starters, once they realized they were being drugged, they refused to eat the food reward pellets that contained them. Some of the primates were not at all fond of the military-style training they were receiving, and some of them were beginning to get bored with it as well.

Some of them loved it however, (mostly the more aggressive chimps) and those who did were being brought back to the training camps with increased regularity.

Many of them began to get sick from withdrawal, and Frederick encouraged them to eat no more than was absolutely necessary to stay well and comfortable. Management began to realize that their scheme was starting to unravel, and tried putting it in the water they drank instead.

The problem was that once they recognized the old, familiar symptoms of their previous addiction, they revolted. They were all in agreement that the work they performed as telemarketing ‘qualifiers’”was stultifying and mind-numbing, and without the attraction of the pellets, since their captors had not yet found a way to instill Greed in them, let alone a need for money they were no longer willing to subject themselves to such inhumane treatment.

It turns out that Frederick, unbeknownst to anyone else, had formulated a plot to free his brethren. At a pre-arranged time they simultaneously assembled back at the building that housed the workplace for the Center where the telemarketing computers were located (which was literally walking distance from their Habitat) and burned it to the ground, although they left the rest of the Center intact. They had all learned to drive vehicles during their military maneuvers, stole several trucks and cars, and drove straight to the Sanctuary at the Home for Wayward Souls, guided by Frederick.

The fire created such a commotion that neither the disappearance of the primates nor the vehicles was noticed until after they had already arrived at the Sanctuary. The single guard at the gate had been overcome by three chimps who ambushed him, tied him up and carried him off to the site of their abandoned homes.

Initially, both the police and the military thought that they had been stolen, or even kidnapped for ransom. The missing guard was the initial prime suspect until they finally located him bound and gagged in one of the homes.

Sebastian and Linderman quickly ruled out terrorism or counter-espionage from a number of standpoints, including the fact that the entire rest of the world was unaware that the primates were anything other than test subjects used for telemarketing schemes once their ‘pure’ research purposes were co-opted by PharmaCorp.

Rather than wait to be raided by SWAT, the FBI and who-knows-who else once their location was discovered, Ash hired an attorney to represent the primates who were proclaiming that their treatment was inhumane and that they had been illegally enslaved against their will, given their newly-proclaimed sentience. No mention of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was ever made, nor did they intend to make any reference to it.

They also had driven the vehicles off the Sanctuary compound, so as to not constitute grand theft, or possession of stolen goods.

Ash then also appeared on the local (and eventually national) press and media stating that the chimps and bonobos were requesting asylum at his church. This effectively threw the proverbial (forgive me) ‘Monkey Wrench’ into law enforcement’s plans to overrun the premises to re-capture the Primates.

EVERY BONANZEE HAS HIS DAY (IN COURT)

As anyone who has ever been in a protracted legal dispute can tell you, it has a way of taking over your life completely until it is over, and the legal maneuvering can easily sidetrack the real issues until it becomes difficult to even remember what got your there in the first place.

That is what attorneys are for; they create a self-justifying need with each side upping the stakes (and fees) before eventually getting to the heart of the case.

The real meat, bone and gristle of this case centered upon the question of what is sentience, and how is it measured, or determined to exist? Also, are ‘sentient’ beings entitled to basic human rights? The Chimps were seeking asylum within a church, which only further complicated the issue.

Both sides insisted upon having their choice of interpreters of American Sign Language present to translate Frederick’s testimony.

Mark was the obvious choice for Frederick’s side. His credentials were flawless and indisputable. The opposition, represented by SAIC and Leidos (the subcontractors for the DOD) attempted at every point to marginalize the answers Frederick gave, and it was up to Mark to call them on it every time they did.

Both sides had their share of skeletons in their respective closets that neither wanted to have to share with the judge, jury or general public.

SAIC and Leidos although admittedly under the employ of the DOD, used the cloak of ‘National Security’ to avoid discussion of (forgive me) a ‘Gorilla (actually ‘Guerrilla’) Army’ of primates being trained to do the government’s bidding.

So far, Ash, Merle and the other church officers of The Home for Wayward Souls had managed to keep the secret of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to themselves by restricting its use, knowledge and distribution to themselves, with only very select members of the ArchAngels and Anastasia being the only others who were privy to its existence.

Neither side wanted to have to explain or justify the full extent of their individual hidden agendas.

Charles and Lothar found themselves having to constantly upgrade their electronic security of the premises. Government spooks were constantly trying to invade the grounds to place cameras, transmitters and microphones everywhere imaginable to try to gather damaging Intel to use against their opposition.

Although Stanley had ostensibly been assigned to supervise the group and gather Intel as well as provide protection of PharmaCorp’s assets (Frederick), he secretly made sure there was no breach of the members’ privacy, even though he made sure that Charles and Lothar made the actual discovery of any bugs of any kind.

Also, because of the paramilitary training that a number of the chimps received, they additionally provided added perimeter security of eyes and ears much better suited for detection of attempts to breach their boundaries than any human could ever hope to accomplish.

The ‘Common Chimps’ (Pan Troglodytes) are by nature very territorial, so they already had millions of years of evolutionary development on their side. It is not unusual for the males to patrol their established  domain on a regular basis.

It became a larger-then-life full-time occupation for Charles, which was fortunate enough because he suddenly found himself unemployed by PharmaCorp after the meltdown of the ‘Talking Monkeys’ project.

Ten years of diligent hard work and a very impressive sales record meant nothing, once he was identified as working for the other side by virtue of being named as a church officer.

Florida, as well as most ‘Right to Work’ states have complete legal impunity to fire anyone at any time for no reason whatsoever under the guise of the ‘business needs’ of the employer with no recourse on the part of the terminated former employee.

Period.

Ash assured Charles that he would always be an integral part of the church’s organization. Therein lay the difference between a job and work. Ash in fact insisted that Charles be paid a salary at least double his best hourly wages including commission and incentives. He did not have to punch a time clock, even an electronic one.

Imagine if Da Vinci or Michelangelo worked for a modern corporation, say under the auspices of Michael Eisner and Disney….

Jobs may come and go, even if they rob you of every bit of energy, enthusiasm and joy a day at a time, but the real work of a person’s life is always there, forever waiting like an insatiable lover to be either ignored or satisfied; the choice is yours.

He knew what was needed and gladly worked incessantly until it was done, and there was no shortage of work, which for him was a labor of Love. He had a vested interest in every action he performed, and he felt, for the first time in his life that any and all of his knowledge and skills were needed and appreciated.

And he was trusted on a level that most family members never know (especially if an inheritance or an estate is involved so as to turn kin into adversaries).

This was as transparent a group of individuals as could ever be found, and yet it was not without a certain degree of discomfort, adjustment and growth. Fortunately, The Knowledge also fueled the insight necessary to find acceptance of the truth.

It was during this time that Suki discovered that Charles and Anastasia had a history that went back more than twenty years ago when he was a faculty member at Miami-Dade Community College and she was an eighteen-year old aspiring film student.

She re-discovered him by pure accident when she went on her quest to write a story about the Kink/Fet community and Polyamory. She had originally used the name ‘Stacey’ when she met Charles in school, which was simpler and more trendy back then, and she had changed her last name when she got married.

They had become quite an item for a while, but they drifted apart when she went back to LA, and Charles honestly did not initially recognize her despite their romantic history. Twenty years is a long time for appearances to change a person almost beyond recognition.

Anastasia was reluctant to broach the subject, and was a little bit stung by her pride because she thought that he did not remember her, when in fact, he did remember her…he just hadn’t recognized her.

It wasn’t until the three of them took The Knowledge together that Charles suddenly realized he was in the presence of a long-lost flame, and under the influence of such a powerful empathogenic drug, there can be no secrets, and Suki quickly sensed, and finally realized the full extent of Anastasia’s subterfuge.

And almost as quickly, they all came to the realization that Anastasia’s intentions were good overall; she had no axe to grind as far as intending to take Charles from Suki; she had her own hands full maintaining a very strong and loving relationship with her part-time absentee husband, and she and Suki both knew in their hearts that the love and friendship they had developed for each other almost eclipsed Anastasia’s earlier fascination with Charles.

You could say that the two women’s relationship with each other had all the earmarks of serendipity, and it was easy for both to trust each other’s intentions, given the transparency and inability of guile or falsity to exist in such a transcendent and intuitive atmosphere. 

They were able to trust their own hearts because they knew each other’s hearts.

Once that was out of the way they became as solid a triad as there ever has been. This sent a ripple through the entire group, pointing out once again how much emphasis the illusion of the need of most forms of privacy are largely rooted in some kind of secrecy that is unnecessary amongst such a truly sentient and telepathic group.

This event took all the members through a sort of quantum leap of self-realization as well as group consciousness from which there could not be any turning back.

They became as one.

Finally, both legal parties agreed upon one additional independent sign language interpreter hired by the court from a pool of available experts who seemed to be completely neutral regarding the issues at stake in an attempt to give the court a better idea of what might be regarded as a middle ground between two admittedly biased interpreters.

What no one else knew was that during Frederick’s well-rehearsed testimony he had the added advantage of silent telepathic prompting from Ash and Merle, who sat in the midst of the lawyers.

Frederick believed he had spent his entire previous life preparing for this moment in time, and the fate of all primates hung in the balance. He could not have been more ready for this test.

EVERY DAY IS JUDGMENT DAY

You could fill a law book with a summary of the flurry of motions, claims and counter-claims filed by both sides regarding the disposition of the primates requesting asylum at The Home for Wayward Souls. The basic premises were these:

The Home for Wayward Souls was being challenged as not being a legitimate house of worship because they were not affiliated with any specific denomination, nor did they espouse belief in or worship of any specific deity. If it was ruled that they were not in fact a true church, then seeking asylum in their sanctuary would not be a valid claim.

PharmaCorp was petitioning the IRS to revoke their Religious tax-exempt status. The government stood to receive a great deal of money if this did occur, were it not for the 501-(c)3 non-profit status incorporated into what in effect constituted a line marriage of all the church officers, including Ash and Kali. 

PharmaCorp’s strategy here was to disarm them of their considerable wealth in an attempt to limit their ability to finance their legal campaign. It was more of a show of flexing their muscle and as a psychological intimidation factor, once their non-profit status was discovered.

Ash maintained that as an ordained minister (due to his original affiliation with the Unitarian Universalists), as well as a Doctor of Divinity it was not within the purview of The State to dictate, regulate, define, or pass judgment upon what even constituted a church in the first place by virtue of the doctrine of the separation of Church and State.

He also publicly stated that if pressed, he could claim that they worshipped all primates, including Man, or even the Ancient Ones, or Los Guerreros, not unlike the Church of Lukumi Aye Babalu, (aka Santeria).

If the Hindus could worship cattle, elephants and monkeys he defied The State to discredit his church.

Were that not enough, although Jainism does not advocate the worship of rats, their temples in India are overrun by them, leading to the mistaken belief that they worship them because they feed them.

The Primates, both Chimps and Bonobos alike (as well as Frederick, who was a hybrid cross between the two, who also maintained he was the sole member of a unique species so rare as to be classified as endangered) claimed to possess sentience, therefore to be owned or possessed by anyone and forced to commit labor against their free will and choice constituted slavery, as well as false imprisonment.

PharmaCorp maintained that all the primates as well as their offspring were their legally purchased property, and were to be returned to their rightful owners.

In an attempt to play both sides of the coin however, PharmaCorp further stated that even if the courts did find the primates to be sentient, then they should be held accountable for their actions, including the destruction of millions of dollars of property, as well as disruption of commerce.

PharmaCorp further alleged that the influences of Frederick’s attendance of services at The Home for Wayward Souls was directly responsible for inciting the rebellion of the primates, therefore they were suing Ash’s church for damages and subsequent profit losses incurred, alleging conspiracy to incite riot, sedition and malicious aggravated vandalism.

It was the contention of the primates’ attorneys that they had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment against their will, including using coercion to cause them to unknowingly take addictive drugs to induce them to perform tasks that resulted in profits being made from their servitude without proper compensation.

They were countersuing for unpaid wages as well as punitive claims for damages, interest, and all attorney’s fees.

Perhaps the most controversial claim made by the primates was that they had incurred stress and injuries resulting from the influences of forced repetitive thoughts and stimulus-mediated responses, much like repetitive motion injuries, which they referred to as ‘Cerebral Tunnel Syndrome.’

Because the conditions to which the primates were subjected were no different from those in any other telemarketing boiler-room operation, a great deal was at stake regarding working conditions. If it was to be ruled that it was inhumane to treat an animal (sentient or not) to such conditions, the consequences would be far-reaching in an industry already notorious for poor treatment of its employees.

In the interim, Stanley Linderman was put in charge of protecting the property and personal interests of PharmaCorp as regards all of the primates, especially Frederick. It was mutually agreed that he be allowed to remain on the premises, even though the FDLA (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and the FBI had established a perimeter around the property associated with The Home for Wayward Souls.

It was sketchy as to the jurisdiction that warranted FBI presence, given the fact that PharmaCorp was not owning up to any affiliation with the DoD despite the fact that it was becoming increasingly clear that the federal government also had a vested interest, and no one wanted to see either the Army or National Guard surrounding the premises.

Amidst all of this, Darcy’s due date was rapidly approaching. Mark and Darcy had already moved into the Sanctuary, but despite the chaos and stress that would normally be associated with the stand-off and the never-ending surveillance by the news media as well as law-enforcement including helicopter fly-overs and obnoxious paparazzi, the religious services and television shows continued, and the human members were allowed to come and go as they pleased, including Ash’s congregation and guests.

Most of the single members of Ash’s band, The ArchAngels had moved in semi-permanently, and during that time they produced a double album entitled Apocalypso: Music from The Siege of the Garden, which went double-platinum in less than six weeks.

The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil got to be like a vitamin for the enlightened inner circle, and provided much-needed insight and a sense of calm for all of those privileged to experience it.

It became the place to be, to experience, and to give and receive in like kind, and it seemed like the whole world was watching…and all the while, the band played on.

“…there’s battle lines being drawn…”

“…there’s battle lines being drawn…nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…”

(Buffalo Springfield: “There’s Something Happening Here”)

As the players in this one-act play called the trial became more polarized by the actions of the attorneys and the attentions of the media, the proceedings were beginning to resemble a three-ring circus and the actions by PharmaCorp/SAIC/Leidos and its members and followers and generally anyone willing to do their bidding became more provocative and confrontational.

And because the actions and values of Management were untenable in the court of public opinion, their energies were centered around intimidation, and generally trying to press for an out-of-court sealed settlement without admitting guilt and trying as much as possible to suppress public knowledge every way they could.

The members of Management were constantly calling each other to verify solidarity among each of its members, and seeking statements of commitment and assurances of mutual support so as to present an impenetrable wall to the Plaintiff’s assault.

Ex-military subcontractors for privately owned government contractors tend to get particularly neurotic during such proceedings because the relative protection of military chain of command, national security and secrecy, etc. is not guaranteed in civilian life. 

Things that end up being done or ordered in the civilian world do not have the impunity that they do in the military.

Sebastian Gailbraith Lodge was new to this experience and was starting to come apart at the seams like a cheap suit. Somewhere deep within his psyche, he sensed that his haughty and self-righteous modus personality was just a smokescreen for his massive personal insecurities.

He was not comfortable watching The Caine Mutiny because something deep inside him felt sorry for Captain Queeg because he sensed they had been cut from the same cloth.

As isolated as he felt from most of the rest of the world, he’d felt a kindredship for Queeg that was so strong that the first time he saw the movie he though Queeg was the hero until his breakdown on the witness stand.

Sebastian Lodge was terrified of the prospect of testifying, and doing everything he could to separate himself from the operations of The Habitat so as to insulate himself from responsibility.

For this reason, Stanley Linderman had been given substantial promotions and was expected to oversee the Habitat as well as the operations at The Sanctuary. Lodge needed deniability and it was his intention that Stanley would provide it. At the same time, the stress was making him behave in a more paranoid fashion each day.

Stanley could see what was happening quite clearly, as he had become quite proficient at estimating Sebastian’s character, if not outright reading his mind altogether.

“Fucking great!” he thought… “The band has already assembled on the deck and is tuning up to practice ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ and suddenly Sebastian Gailbraith Lodge is queuing up to make me the Captain so that he can jump into the lifeboat.”

But it just didn’t matter to Stan. He knew he already had his course charted out for him, at least he thought so. He had a plan. Lodge figured that if he got Stan sufficiently emotionally invested in justifying the actions at The Habitat, if he didn’t go native and get soft on him, he would provide the ‘mutual deniability’ that Olly North had tried so hard to give to Reagan.

His biggest fear was Stan’s potential for duplicity in his loyalties to both The Management and the members of The Home for Wayward Souls, but he was cluelessly grasping at straws. If he only knew….

(Cut to Sebastian G. Lodge’s office at what was formerly the offices of The Center for Primate Studies. There remains a slightly unpleasant very pungent odor that seems to linger in S.G. Lodge’s office just a little longer and stronger than anywhere else. Imagine the smell of an entire suburban block burned beyond habitability, but extinguished just before the roofs collapsed…plastic, tar paper, and carpets…clothes, furniture, blankets and bedding. (Lodge, by the way, pretends not to be able to smell it any longer.)

(Linderman): “I understand you wanted to see me sir…”

(Lodge): “I would apologize for not contacting you directly by phone, or text, but the circumstances dictate the utmost discretion. I want it so that when you turn on those degenerates at The Home for Wayward Souls who are provoking all of this, no one will suspect it…I assume you are still clear as to the loyalties you owe our employers, correct?”

(Linderman): “I have managed to earn the trust and respect of our adversaries without compromising my commitment to the operation. They know I have been charged with protecting Management’s interests in their legal property. They like me well enough and are comfortable enough with me that I have had much opportunity to become privy to their most unguarded moments…”

(Lodge): “What about that journalist that’s thick as thieves with two of them?…you two got to be a bit of an item for a while there….”

(Linderman): “Well, her husband is back in the states…they live a rather unorthodox alternative lifestyle…there were no secrets, and no lies were necessary…he’s just as concerned with discretion as we are…but he always gets her full attention when he is home, which made the separation, which I told her it was for appearances, less awkward…besides…he may work for the DOD, but he’s not involved directly with anything that Management is currently involved….”

(Lodge): “Who would have thought was even possible?…I mean how often does that ever happen?…they have their fingers in just about everybody’s cookie jar…Just the same…I can’t afford to have you feeling mixed emotions….”

(Linderman): “You know my record better than anyone…when has that ever happened?”

(Lodge): “Just so we’re on the same page…”

(Linderman): “Anything else, sir?”

(Lodge): “Just stay frosty.”

Stan wanted to laugh in his face.

As Stanley Linderman left Lodge’s office to return to his post at the Sanctuary, he thought about his original assignment, which was to ‘protect management’s interests in their property,’ namely Frederick’s safety, even though it was really just a ruse to conduct surveillance on The Sanctuary and The Home for Wayward Souls.

He knew that Lodge had not bothered to get clearance to conduct espionage on American citizens not involved in terrorism. Not only did Lodge believe he was above those rules because he believed he answered to a higher power, but Stan also knew Lodge had been passed over for promotions several times because of his ultra-right(eous) ultra-religious zeal.

Many of his colleagues laughed at him behind his back to the point where they seemed too smug to even pretend not to treat him like a buffoon to his face.

“Just remember your original, stated assignment, Linderman.” he mused as he started to accelerate on his way to The Sanctuary.

Testimony: Test and Testament

Once word leaked out about Frederick’s scheduled appearance on the witness stand, the whole world literally was watching, but it took some considerable legal maneuvering to even have his testimony allowed in the first place.

The attorneys for PharmaCorp (and the SAIC and LEIDOS) swarmed the court with injunctions of every imaginable configuration because to even recognize the ability of a primate to offer testimony was unprecedented.

Preliminary interrogation of Frederick away from the jury eventually determined to the satisfaction of the court that he was capable of answering questions by way of American Sign Language. What surprised them the most was what he had to offer of his own volition.

This was by far Frederick’s most limited method of communication, but considering the fact that his ASL vocabulary included over three thousand words, it still far surpassed anything that PharmaCorp’s attorneys had anticipated.

It is noteworthy that Frederick’s comprehension of words was many times over even that, and given his telepathic abilities he was far more eloquent than anyone except the most enlightened members of The Home for Wayward Souls could possibly imagine.

It was documented by PharmaCorp’s own research that the primates in the ‘Talking Monkeys Project’ were capable of ferreting out certain ‘buzz words’ from entire conversations that correlated to matching pre-recorded responses designed to function as answers used to qualify particular prospects as targets so as to be diverted to an appropriate human closer.

ASL has thousands of hand signs, positions and gestures that symbolically represent words, concepts, and combinations of ideas which are much more acceptable to the simian brain than the ‘finger-spelling’ often used by humans using ASL.

Stimulus-mediated responses of primates to identified word triggers was already old news to the members of PharmaCorp’s research participants, but interpretation of meaning by decoding combinations of letters to produce words is infinitely more abstract and indirect than the processes used to communicate in the way that it has already been documented that primates like chimps and gorillas are capable.

The sections labeled Broca’s Region are responsible for these more complex language skills, and are normally not developed in the simian brain.

We are not talking however, about normal primates or great apes. The randomly produced quantum leap that Frederick’s hybrid mutation by virtue of his Chimp father and Bonobo mother represented the absolute apex of primate evolution very similar to what occurred during the The Great Eurasian Leap Forward that had produced the first branching from the lineage of hominids that eventually yielded the ancestors of modern man.

And once Frederick was introduced to The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he found himself suddenly capable of standing upon his own shoulders in terms of intellectual and conceptual developments that had taken Man tens of thousands of years to accomplish.

And when he was put on the witness stand, the harder PharmaCorp, Leidos and the SAIC’s attorneys tried to discredit Frederick’s sentience, the more eloquently they helped make his case for him.

The telepathic communications that were possible between Ash, Kali, Merle, Mark and Darcy to help prompt Frederick’s answers as essentially One Common Mind of the group additionally gave the impression of an inspired level of genius that few, if any humans could aspire to attain.

And so it was that Frederick’s testimony began. It was mutually agreed that the court-appointed interpreter would speak for Frederick to the jury unless there was a significant disagreement between either the plaintiff (Frederick et al) and the Defendant (PharmaCorp/SAIC/Leidos).

“Hello, my name is Frederick. My father, Malkira is a Chimpanzee and my mother, Lilith is a Bonobo, sometimes called a Pygmy Chimp. I am to the best of anyone’s knowledge the only member of a hybrid species I like to call Bonanzee.”

(Plaintiff’s attorney): “Why are there no others like you?”

(Frederick): “First of all, the Congo River separates our two tribes, and Chimpanzees do not swim, which is very fortunate for the Bonobos.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Why is that fortunate?”

(Frederick): “The Bonobos are generally much smaller and considerably less aggressive. Left to their own devices, the Chimps would have undoubtedly overrun the Bonobos into extinction. Also the cultures are not especially compatible.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “What do you mean?”

(Frederick): “The Chimpanzee are more like conservative Republicans. They are monogamous, almost exclusively heterosexual, and patriarchal. They are more aggressive, and considerably more territorial. They frequently patrol their territories to drive off, or even kill other tribes that invade their territory, and will sometimes even eat smaller primates, like monkeys for instance.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “And the Bonobos?”

(Frederick): “They are very much like very liberal Democrats. They are more prone to polyandry and bisexuality. The females are often known to use sexual favors to barter special foods, and as a bargaining tool for promoting higher pecking order within their tribe. You could say that the Bonobos, by contrast, are matriarchal.” 

“They are also more passive. Murder is almost unheard of, and there are no known instances of Bonobo cannibalism or the eating of other primates, like monkeys. Also, they are generally more clever, although both tribes are inventive and imaginative as regards tool-making and use.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Is there anything else that they share in common?”

(Frederick): “Comprehension and manipulation of abstract concepts and symbology, simple arithmetic, bargaining and deal-making, even lying to avoid discovery of guilt, and emotional responses to elements of their surroundings…plus, maintenance of a tribal social order, conducting funerals, and adopting orphans within the tribe.”

(Defendant’s Attorney): “Wait a minute…lying?…what’s to say you aren’t you lying now?”

(Frederick): “If you mean was lying regarding my previous statements, the question would be to what end? If you were asking about my actions, or a sequence of events, yes I could be capable of lying about them, but everything I have said so far are simple documented statements of scientifically proven facts.”

“Also, In order to claim possession of those skills it would necessarily require some understanding of them. However, lying to cover up guilt or to gain an advantage in deal-making is an essential part of negotiating skills…but then again, as attorneys, you should already know that.”

With that the laughter that was only marginally stifled prior to Frederick’s last remark broke out into such pandemonium that the judge threatened to eject all non-subpoenaed members within the court that did not have direct reason to be physically present.

The trial was televised, breaking all previous records for viewership since the O.J. Simpson Trial, but there was nothing to say that any non-essential observers had to be allowed in the courtroom at all.

But a live audience gave Frederick his best opportunity to perform for them, and to play them like a fish on the end of a line and in so doing create a moment in time that could be felt, like a humid atmosphere or a smell so strong that once acknowledged, would seem to be  able to be witnessed.

The attorneys for PharmaCorp/SAIC/and Leidos would have preferred no audience at all. For them, the best possible public opinion was NO public opinion, or even knowledge of any of the facts related to the trial.

PharmaCorp’s recent mergers and acquisitions had created the most powerful near-monopoly in the history of the business in the United States, if not the world, all with the approval and sanction of Congress.

Numerous Bio-Ethicists had argued that a company that managed and administrated an insurance/healthcare program, act as it’s administrator and thereby still be allowed to also sell and deliver the medications that they controlled so as to profit from the unfair competition was reprehensible and unethical, but then again, less than a decade before, it took legislation to prevent the same company that made the medications from also competing with local pharmacies by way of acting as Program Administrators, and ordered them to divest themselves of each other.

(Curiously not unlike the way SAIC and Leidos had been forced to do, at least in theory, although even today, it would be very difficult to tell where one operation ended and the other began, aided in no small part by their ‘Top-Secret’ classifications.)

The fact that they were almost single-handedly hijacking the entire institution of pharmaceutical healthcare insurance within the United States barely produced more than just a ripple of negative public opinion.

With more than half a dozen states’ attorney general already seeking indictment of PharmaCorp, several of the major pharmaceutical manufacturers, and a number of the healthcare insurance providers for conspiracy, violation of SEC regulations, price-fixing, and unfair restriction of trade, the wave of public opinion had the potential of turning into a tsunami of ill-will and resentment, seeking revenge.

In the recent past, as they had risen in less than two years from the merger of a Fortune Fifty and a Fortune Five Hundred company to one that was soon to rise to somewhere into the ‘Fortune-Teens’ they had simply ignored all public opinion and got away with all of it with complete impunity and just enough anonymity to get away with it.

All to the tune of over Two Hundred Sixty Billion dollars annually.

They disallowed coverage and changed co-pay rates in the middle of the year for hundreds of drugs, forty to sixty at a time; an action that was previously illegal in the healthcare insurance industry prior to January first of 2014.

PharmaCorp had leveraged themselves into becoming regarded as the Gold Standard for denial and attrition of claims and money paid out by virtue of successive denials. Even if they simply delayed the payout by three months, the interest on the money in question is still free money for the investors.

Just think of it as being a way that a company can pay for its entire existence, as well as all the salaries of all the executives by virtue of the amount of money they can ‘save’ the programs.

They for instance, function as hospital or healthcare administrators by ostensibly preventing or eliminating  ‘waste’ by doing things like sending nurses home early in the middle of a shift if the momentary census, called a DRG drops below a certain level.

Then if something else happens, like a car wreck on the local interstate that generates enough patients to justify calling more nurses or doctors back in, the victims, aka the patients will have to wait for the arrival of those doctors and nurses back to the hospital so that a six-figure suit with a guaranteed salary can live in luxury.

Healthcare Insurance Administrators do just that. They study how much money can be cheated from the insured overall in a year, and give back a specified portion of it back to the Insurance Provider.

Of course, it is only a matter of time before the Insurance Provider realizes that the Insurance Administrators are also cheating them by creating so much obfuscation that even the courts can’t make head nor tail of it.

As the population glut produced by the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age prepares to hit its peak, the enslaving of America doesn’t just continue…it careens out of control.

Thiese Provider/Administrator/Manufacturer/Distributors even crowded out Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, et al with Bombay Batches of bathtub remedies that masqueraded as generic drugs by paying off the FDA to approve pills that were pressed so poorly, they had already begun to disintegrate in their vials before reaching their intended recipients.

Medications were sent that were described as smelling like cat urine or gave the recipients severe diarrhea despite the fact that the brand name (or even other generics) did not.

Medications like Metformin, the generic version of Glucophage.

Although it was ruled that a generic medication had to be within +/- 5% of the strength of the active ingredient of the original brand name drug, proprietary information, (’secrets’) regarding bioavailability may remain the intellectual property of the company making the brand-name drug.

There are good, and there are bad generic copies of the original trade name medications. 

The good ones all cost more money. Do the Math.

There seemed to be nothing to stop them as they breathed the same sweet, rarefied air inspired by only Apple, Google, Microsoft, the Big Oil companies, Big Tobacco, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, their attorneys, and the well-financed legislators who enabled the entire process in the same way that they had done to the real estate and financial markets until the 2008 collapse with impunity, but the idea of subjecting such lovable Chimpanzees to conditions only a Telemarketer would tolerate generated the kind of emotional outrage that came to be regarded as the Last Straw.

Fuck telemarketers….they provide the guiltless Schadenfreude that the public needs to buoy their spirits when they see animals abused and subjected to the same cruelty.

Telemarketers are so generally maligned and despised that virtually no one cared how they were treated, but to do so to anything as charming and lovable as Frederick seemed unthinkable, draconian and inhumane…even without adding the story of the Chimpanzee Commando Squads which, at least for now, PharmaCorp, and SAIC/Leidos had managed to get gag-ordered “due to National Security Issues.”

They also desperately wanted to prevent the public from finding out that the chimps and bonobos were being drugged in order to get them to repeat the same sequences of events endlessly day in, day out. They had themselves already generated  the research statistics that showed how Cerebral Tunnel Syndrome (Repetitive Brain Injury) was measurable and significant among their test subjects.

The primates had happily embraced the initial testing that had proved that they could do it, but once they had proved their point, the seemingly endless daily repetitions were what necessitated administering the drugs to the ‘test subjects.’

It was also at that point that what could be legitimately considered experiments in learning, perception and behavior crossed over into slavery.

The public would consider it to be an abomination to force chimpanzees and bonobos into a life of addiction to amphetamines, SSRI’s and Xanax, even if their own lives mimicked the same insanity. Theirs was a life of their own choice, promoted by a combination of perceived necessity and greed.

Chimps already had everything they wanted or needed in their own natural environment, in the ever-present present moment.

Shave one of them, and it would be difficult, if not impossible to tell one of them from a Zen Buddhist Monk without derogation or denigration of either.

Chimps are disinclined to the concept of working overtime to pay for a bigger house in a better neighborhood, luxury automobiles, designer clothes or to send their offspring to private schools.

(…and there are some things a Chimpanzee won’t do….)

One of the things PharmaCorp/SAIC/Leidos’ attorney’s hadn’t anticipated or prepared for was the way that Frederick was able to not only take control of the interrogation, but also to captivate the attention of all of the jurors.

(Frederick): “But a great deal more than just intelligence determines the difference between simply being Human and being Humane…I was touched by the recognition of emotional responses and self-awareness being characteristic of possessing sentience.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Why shouldn’t you be used for experiments that might eventually save human lives?”

(Frederick): “Is it not reasonable to assert that simple possession of emotional responses to one’s environment coupled with the ability to express those emotions justifies the validity of their sentience?”

“And once that sentience can be established, does it not follow that beyond simple pecking order, are they not at the very least, exempted from placement upon your food chain?”

(Defendant’s Attorney): “Would you deny that Man is intellectually far superior to the Apes?”

“If Man is indeed blessed by his prominence at the apex of All Things Living, shouldn’t his enlightenment breed empathy for all others?”

“There are all kinds of masters in this world, but among those, kindness and understanding are the earmarks of a benevolence bred of tolerance.”

”You don’t have to be able to do algebra to understand Nobless Oblige.”

(Defense Attorney): “Are you suggesting that animals shouldn’t have to work for Humans?”

(Frederick): “I think we need to re-examine how we work with Man. There are monkeys that act as the hands for quadriplegics, and the relationship appears to be quite symbiotic. And although almost no one uses horses, mules or donkeys as beasts of burden or draught animals unless they need to go someplace a motorized vehicle can’t, Man likes to raise, keep and ride them for entertainment, without abusing them.”

“Although we couldn’t find an approved spokesperson for industrialized poultry, at least not from the avian participants …well, look at canines in law-enforcement…they like what they are expected to do…it suits their natures, which are basic and simplistic and hungry for Power over others.”

“I never heard of a dog that questioned his willingness to obey his master’s commands. That doesn’t say they are less entitled, or somehow inferior to Chimps…its just not in their emotional make-up to question whatever rules their masters enforce.”

(Defense Attorney): “What’s so bad about working for Man?”

(Frederick): “Some of the chimps liked some of their job assignments, at least for a while. Some of the Bonobos didn’t like some of the paramilitary assignments conducted off-campus that they were given in the least. And none of them liked the routine work on the telephones.”

“They didn’t want to be made addicted to drugs that made them feel crazy, just to go to work every day…that’s why you Humans have the expression ‘The Man’ to describe how you treat each other.”

”Imagine a Chimp with no cocaine…Now imagine a stockbroker or an attorney without it.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Just what is it you Primates want, anyway?”

(Frederick): “You humans are the top of the primate chain…we get it…everybody gets it…but do you get it that we are your first cousins, and are therefore entitled to fundamental deference and respect among the other animals?”

“You invented your so-called ‘Soul’ in order to proclaim some sort of exclusive rights to God. We may not be able to produce spoken words, but would you deny that we have thoughts and feelings?”

“Once I have learned to express myself in a way that we both can understand, how long must we wait for you to allow that our sentience can be regarded as having crossed the abyss you perceive between Man and the Apes?”

“If you need to proclaim the exclusive existence of your Soul to assert your superiority over us, so be it…that’s your problem…we just ask that you don’t make your problem our problem…fair enough?”

At that exact moment, and for the second time in this story, a fly was startled by the sound of a pin dropping somewhere in that courtroom.

Mark’s Remarks

Because Mark was in charge of the project to teach ASL to the primates at the center, it was inevitable that his testimony would be required.

Frederick’s translations had been monitored by Mark on behalf of the plaintiffs. He was by then the most senior member of the facility since Sebastian Galbraith Lodge had replaced his director.

He had been with the center when it was just a commercial tourist attraction featuring a wide range of African Animals in a savanna landscape that closely mimicked their natural habitat called “African Adventures,’ where the visitors would drive their cars through marked trails and were instructed not to leave their vehicles in the interest of their safety.

His baccalaureate degree had been in Zoology and he worked at the center as a handler while he was earning his degree. Because he had a sister who was deaf, he had learned ASL, many years before, as had his parents.

Because of the interest generated in the early seventies regarding teaching sign language to chimps and gorillas, he began to experiment with teaching it to several of the more trainable chimps and bonobos on his own whenever he had the opportunity.

A word of two here and there quickly progressed to dozens of signs mostly related to items of interest to his charges among those inclined to learn it.

One of the things that occurred to Mark that was unique to his experiences was that instead of a single primate being assigned to isolated study either in a lab or in a more familial environment among humans, he was teaching it to several apes in a setting that closely resembled their natural environment.

What most fascinated him was the fact that, left to their own devices, several of the primates began to teach other uninitiated members of their own volition.

Once they discovered that they would get rewards and treats as well as affection and attention for the use of certain hand signals, he had his own hands full with communications from almost all the primates.

Mark went back to school to study linguistics and further develop his own vocabulary in ASL while working for African Adventures.

It was shortly after that when African Adventures began to sell off some of the more expensive and dangerous animals like the elephants, rhinos, and hippos to zoos, due to financial needs. The deer and antelopes and other hoofed animals, like the zebras and wildebeests were much cheaper to maintain, but business dropped off drastically once the Big Game animals were no longer visible.

Soon buyers were located for the four-legged hoofed creatures as well, but the birds, monkeys and apes seemed to generate the most interest in the dwindling venture and they were the least dangerous and easiest to maintain.

When African Adventures was about to go chapter eleven, PharmaCorp’s parent company, a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm bought it to use as a research facility and immediately sold the remaining birds, until there were only monkeys, Chimps and Bonobos left.

That was just about the time that there was a great movement to ban all medical research using higher primates like chimps worldwide.  Eventually, the remaining monkeys died or were vivisected during drug testing.

Shortly after that, the courts ruled that it was violation of the antitrust acts for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to own a distribution company that operated as a pharmacy network and Healthcare Administrator.

About that same time, someone at PharmaCorp (allegedly at the ‘very strong encouragement’ from somewhere either way up in the corporate structure or possibly even outside of it) offered to buy what became dubbed The Center for Primate Research from their parent company in a move that was labeled ‘Divestiture’ as well as ‘Diversification.’

Someone at PharmaCorp had decided the best way to identify what appeals to human perceptions of basic needs was to study their ancestors and their motivations as a part of a revitalization of their marketing strategies.

They had initially tried to use pharmacists and nurses to market home delivery of prescription medications, but found that they were paying premium hourly rates for very disappointing returns on their investments, but quickly learned that sufficiently trained telemarketers could produce results far beyond their initial expectations.

Some believed that to be a ruse to disguise other motives implied earlier, but whatever prompted them to follow that course, it soon became very clear that PhamaCorp was quite interested in an opportunity to reduce the costs paid in salaries to their telemarketers for two reasons.

The first being that many of the Sales Force members, like Charles, were making upwards of one hundred thousand dollars annually, due to huge commissions being paid each month in performance incentives. He had been part of the initial team assigned to revamp PharmaCorp’s marketing strategies.

It didn’t take too long for the bean counters to put a very jealous bug in a number of ears of directors and corporate heads who could not let themselves allow the company to pay more to these salespeople than they were making.

Forget the fact that the initial pilot project involving about a dozen top performers was what turned a lackluster telemarketing operation into a hugely thriving success.

Forget that Management still sucked up the lion’s share of the salaries, and was top-heavy with overpaid vice-presidents.

Forget that PharmaCorp’s profits totaled over two hundred sixty thousand dollars last year as it rose to a ‘Fortune-Teen’ company.

Once the strategies were developed, it was jokingly stated in a high-level staff meeting that now “…even a monkey could do it, if they could only talk….”

At about that point, the commissions and reimbursement scales were restructured down to about sixty percent of what it had been.

Over the next two years, two more restructurings left them making less than forty per-cent of what they had previously earned as less and less qualified or intelligent associates were hired right off the street with literally no previous experiences or skills. (In)Human Resources was jokingly referred to as having a revolving door as people quickly came and left.

But one of the members of the staff meeting that day was the head of the marketing research division, and a brainstorm occurred that resulted in the misnomer Talking Monkeys Project.

It was generally believed that anyone who would answer an unsolicited phone call from an unknown source and continue to hold a conversation with a total stranger long enough to let themselves be convinced to agree to accept products and services from them and even give credit card information away in good faith was either of diminished mental capacity, senile, under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, drunk, stupid, naive, crazy, or any number of combinations of the above.

At this point in America, that is a very large percent of the population. Forget the so-called qualified, informed consumers…the world is filled with rubes just waiting to be picked like ripe, low-hanging fruit.

(Excerpts of Mark’s testimony follows.)

(Plaintiff’s attorney): “Please state your name.”

(Mark): “My Name is Mark Hoffner.”

(Plaintiff’s attorney): “Please state your qualifications and describe your role at The Center for Primate Studies.”

(Mark): “I have a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Zoology from Florida Atlantic University. My Master’s degree is in Linguistics with a minor in Psychology, specializing in Learning, Perception, and Behavior Modification . I also am qualified to translate American Sign Language, which I eventually taught to all the Chimps and Bonobos. “

(Plaintiff’s attorney): “Please describe your roles and duties at the Center.”

(Mark): “It was my job to identify and teach the most qualified Chimpanzees and Bonobos how to communicate with humans, as well as each other via American Sign Language. I also designed a primate-friendly computer keyboard that would allow them to trigger pre-recorded specifically identified messages to sound as if they were answering questions from the callers by identifying ‘buzz words’ that indicated the underlying motivations of the callers.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “That sounds rather generic and non-specific; how effective were the initial trials?”

(Mark): “Extremely. The primates acted as buffers to isolate truly motivated potential customers until certain perimeters were met before routing them to the first available human ‘Closer’. A certain percentage hung up on their own if they weren’t interested in enrolling, but it proved far superior to the automated message queues to which most callers had become accustomed, because they believed that they were in fact being answered by a living human being in real-time.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “I can’t imagine how well pre-recorded answers could be used to respond to specific questions.”

(Mark): “It has more to do with identifying specific words that betray the real underlying emotions, feelings and perceived needs being expressed by the targeted members, and responding with a pre-recorded message that was more than sufficient to appear to address their questions, and then pivoting from that point so as to direct them in the way that we wanted the conversation to go.”

“The research clearly indicated that Reason or focused discriminatory skills had little bearing on the decisions of the targeted members…it’s a little like jingling your car keys to distract a crying baby…especially if you intended to pick the pocket of that baby.”

“I taught the Chimps and Bonobos how to recognize those key words…keep in mind, that Recognition is a much lower-level learning skill, compared to Recall.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Could you please give us some examples?”

(Mark): “Words like ‘Safety’ …’Reliability’ …’Protection’…’Value’ …’Security’…’Piece of Mind’…’Trust’…all play upon psychological triggers that tend to diminish the more acute and fine discriminatory powers of many individuals.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Please forgive me, but that sounds a bit cynical as well as manipulative. Can you explain a bit further please?”

(Mark): “You could say my cynicism was Learned, as well as earned…but admittedly, I lost track of several ethical questions because i was so wrapped up in proving my point, as well as by the unbridled success of these experiments in behavior modification.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “How so?”

(Mark): “There are a number of theories as to the causative agents responsible, ranging from the effects of television, or the poor quality of American public schools, or even the deleterious effects of many of the additives in processed foods, and even the growing proliferation of legally prescribed medications like Xanax, but most of the general population has a very short attention span, a poor understanding of logic or reason, shallow interests mostly related to programmed consumerism, and they are easily distracted by words that play upon their most common neurosis and insecurities.”

“It was my job to effectively communicate and program the proper responses to those identified triggers. Primates are capable of understanding many verbal commands or cues from humans, but the use of ASL enabled two-way communications between Man and the primates, and this enabled much more effective teaching and behavior modification, essentially utilizing Socratic method.”

“The training became increasingly intensive as the program progressed. During that time, I began to notice the appearance of cognitive responses from the chimps and bonobos that indicated a much higher level of sentience and intelligence than had been previously documented.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Could you give me an example?”

(Mark): “Certainly…one of the first major breakthroughs that I noticed was when Frederick asked me a question. Previous behavioral experiments with any of the Great Apes had never documented a primate posing a question to any human. Negotiating, bartering and making deals with the researchers had been noted in previous studies…but no questions.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “That sounds interesting enough, but what is so significant about simply asking a question?”

(Mark): “Because it signifies that the questioner comprehends an interrelationship between cause and effect. Frederick’s first questions involved first-person interrogatories about his own relationship to me, for instance, and later came questions about why he should do a particular action on command. It didn’t happen until I first found myself asking him questions that he grasped the concept of the hand gestures that asked ‘Why?’, but once he discovered the power of the word ‘Why?’…well, it was like having a four-year old human child under my care.”

“During that time, I began to record many of Frederick’s conversations with me on my laptop computer. They are one of the exhibits entered as evidence that was subpoenaed when the trial began.”

“If you consider the fact that Frederick’s questions implied self-awareness, then it may well be that the only significant difference between Man and the Great Apes would be their level of intelligence.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “What about the Human Soul?”

(Mark): “Any scientist will tell you, there is no empirical evidence that a Human Soul exists, or for that matter, that animals do not possess souls as well.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Mr. Hoffner, you do realize that the United States is a predominantly Judeo-Christian culture with deeply rooted beliefs in the Human Soul, do you not?”

(Mark): “Of course…but even if you do believe in the uniqueness of Man’s solitary franchise on possession of a soul, is it not even that much more of an obligation to respect the desire for self-determination…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when expressed by any other sentient being capable of communicating those needs and desires?…especially if they never get to go to heaven?”

“I might also add that many other religions ascribe to the belief in the presence of a soul in animals, but to me, the issue is one of sentience…and of self-awareness that presents ethical dilemmas regarding indiscriminate medical testing, vivisection or ownership and forced captivity of any sentient being without its consent.”

“And of course, there is the issue of not being fairly compensated for their labors. Chimps have no need of money and few consumer goods hold any appeal to them, so they possess little motivation to do anything not directly related to their well-being and entertainment.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “So how was it possible to get them to perform for so long against their will? What was their motivation?”

(Mark): “I began to wonder about that myself, especially because they were exhibiting signs of a stress disorder that we have labeled Repetitive Thought Injury…if you will, something like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, only involving the brain. Sometime later, we jokingly nick-named it ‘Cerebral Tunnel Syndrome’…but it is no joke…in fact, I plan on doing my doctoral thesis on the subject. It is highly likely that many humans already suffer from it.”

“If, under conditions of extraordinary stress, essentially non-intellectual verbal responses and simple tasks are repeated long enough until a sort of mental fatigue sets in, those repetitive stimulus-generated responses eventually displace memories of one’s outside life while Ahedonism shuts down the subjects desires to even maintain those formerly ‘Real-Life’ memories and engrams.”

(Plaintiff’s attorney): “And what else did you find?”

(Mark): ”I had blood samples drawn from the Chimps, and discovered that they had become addicted to amphetamines, which prompted me to analyze the reward pellets that they were being given to them after the successful completion of specific tasks.”

“In addition to a sort of fruit-flavored gummy-bear that also had a little vitamin C added, we found the presence of mixed amphetamine salts…a generic version of Adderal, a drug prescribed for narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Disorder…at night, they gave them Ambien to make them sleep before they left the Center to return to their homes.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “What did you do after your discovery?”

(Mark): “I asked a friend of mine who is a research pharmacist to design a series of placebo substitutes that would slowly wean them off their addiction, treat their anxiety and help them sleep without addictive medications.  And I believe he said he simply substituted melatonin for the Ambien.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “How well did it work?”

(Mark): “In terms of freeing them of their addictions, fine…but shortly after that, they rebelled…if you stop to think about it, it was a natural course of events, although I failed to recognize that it would be the inevitable result.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney) “What do you mean by that?” 

(Mark): “Their exhibition of the desire for self-determination as demonstrated  by an organized, planned rebellion, and escape involving even the driving of company vehicles and successful navigation to a known place of safety to request Asylum is also strong evidence of their self-awareness, and suggests previously undocumented cognitive and discriminatory skills not observed in Primate behaviors…but then, of course…whenever I asked Frederick why he waited so long to demonstrate a particular skill, often he would just laugh and say…’You never asked me before’.”

“In other words…we just never found a way to motivate them to utilize those gifts before because we assumed they did not possess them.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Who taught them to drive?”

(Mark): “At first, just my wife Darcy and I taught Frederick to drive our Jeep on some of the back roads of the property…he became very skilled quite quickly, by the way.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Was it Frederick that taught the other primates how to drive?”

At this point the attorneys that represented (but were never specifically identified as) SAIC/Leidos’ interests requested a meeting with the Judge in his chambers, and once again ‘Top-Secret Information’ and ‘Classified National Security interests’ were invoked, causing the judge to instruct the jurors to disregard the question, as it was not directly related to the case, and court was immediately adjourned for the day.

Polarity and Polarization

As the trial progressed it became a time of extremes.

Kali’s website was bringing in tremendous revenues as more and more people learned of its existence. Similarly, people began to flock to the Saturday performances and Sunday services at The Home for Wayward Souls like never before.

Those who could not attend watched it on cable, wherever it was available even if it was only public access.

Soon, so many people were attending from out-of-state, and other countries that even SRO admittance required reservations made weeks in advance unless you were already a member, and Stanley Linderman himself ran background checks on all those who were admitted.

If you were not a known entity, you were screened by standards higher than the TSA uses for aircraft travel, which helped stem the onrush of pilgrims to a manageable level…all courtesy of the US government’s ever-expanding database..

Eventually, Ash, Charles and Lothar set up a giant video projection screen outside the Sanctuary with a huge PA system to accommodate hundreds more. A giant tarp was flown above the outdoor viewing area to give some degree of shelter from the South Florida sun and rain.

Ash was quick to point out that a great deal of their meteoric rise in followers came from the bad press that the Defense attorneys had tried to use to demonize his church in order to challenge its validity as a house of worship for the primates seeking asylum.

The Ultra-Right(eous) Wing of the Ultra Christian Moral Majority jumped on the bandwagon, calling Ash the Anti-Christ, and Kali the Whore of Armageddon, but the more the other side tried to slander and malign their efforts, the more people began to listen to his words, ideas, and songs, and flocking to Kali’s websites in record numbers.

Ash offered an homage to them at the start of every service, and said a prayer to thank and bless them, even if “…they know not what they do….otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. We welcome both their Hate, or their Love, but in return, we can only offer Love…because we DO know what we do, and that is why we do it.”

Whenever you project energy…even hate can empower your imagined enemies, especially if it is not reciprocated.

It was an interesting state of affairs indeed. Because THFWS was not implicated in any wrongdoing, and it was constitutionally illegal for any agency of the government to interfere with the lawful actions of any church. Anyone anywhere else would be charged with harboring a fugitive, but embassies and churches are unique in that respect.

It was far from business as usual, however. In fact it was the best place to be in one of the greatest periods of time in at least the last fifty thousand years since the dawn of man.

They had to build and install a huge computerized state of the art telephone switchboard system just to filter and handle all the telephone calls, providing jobs and income for sixty full-time expatriate PharmaCorp telemarketers. Many called for information, including how to contribute to The Primate Sentience Defense Fund.

A disturbing number of the calls were either bomb or death threats, but considering that the FBI, FDLA (Florida Department of Law Enforcement), county SWAT teams, and undoubtedly a few CIA spooks had surrounded the place to presumably keep the Chimps from escaping and to protect the subpoenaed members and Frederick, accompanied by Lindermand during transport to and from the courthouse, they also prevented anyone not on the guest list from entering, or even getting near enough to cause any mischief.

There were even a few unsubstantiated rumors that off-duty secret Service agents were offered overtime pay to help lend their expertise. (Let’s face it…all the other above-named agencies had a pretty crappy reputation for Protection.)

And, as always all calls were monitored and recorded, not only by THFWS, but also every government agency with enough of an agenda to obtain wiretap orders from a judge, but it was carefully delineated that only information directly specified in the orders could be used or even acted upon; otherwise, it would be deemed ‘Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,’ causing it to be summarily thrown out.

Stanley Linderman was on the inside, charged with ‘protecting PharmaCorp’s assets’ (Notably Frederick and the other Chimps and Bonobos). He additionally recruited a small group of members whose previous life experiences…well, let us just say predisposed them to being useful for security. 

Young Gulf War and even more senior Viet Nam Vets were among the trusted followers well-trained at maintaining a perimeter.

And then of course were the Chimps themselves, all of whom had received some degree of pseudo-military training while on ‘retreat.’ They were more at home in this South Florida jungle than anyone, and accustomed to patrolling their territories when in their natural wild habitat, and even at the Center for Primate Studies. For them, it was inborn, or perhaps instinctive.

As much as PharmCorp/SAIC/Leidos attorneys tried to paint a picture of guilt by association between The Home for Wayward Souls and the primates, it was already agreed among the members that there would be no lies told by them as regards the practices of Ash and his followers.

They decided that the best defense was to offer their candid testimony as a bully pulpit that they hoped would serve as a clarion call to all the disgruntled, disappointed, disgusted people who had rejected the idea of any religion, but still wanted, and needed the companionship, fellowship, support and love of people of common mind and heart.

People not interested in feeling guilty and preoccupied with sin or giving groveling homage endlessly to a silent, disapproving, angry, jealous, wrathful, vindictive God who required intercessions by self-serving clergy of questionable motivation who told them that ‘the Age of Miracles was over.’

It was a call for people who loved sex, and people who sought communion with The Ancient Ones.

People who had studied enough history to realize what a sham virtually all religions were except as another way to control and manipulate the masses.

People who did not regard themselves as part of the masses.

It turned out that there were literally hundreds of thousands of them, and their numbers increased daily. Even atheists were welcome and encouraged to attend, and frequently did because The Home for Wayward Souls had become such a Mecca for rational debate and discussion of alternative lifestyles and belief systems that it became chic, fashionable and avant-garde to watch, listen, or be seen there.

The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the only secret that was kept by those few individuals who had been initiated, each of whom took an oath to not discuss with anyone else.

The Sanctuary was proving to be worthy of its name.

Fortunately, this was not a stand-off, like Ruby Ridge in Idaho, where the FBI and ATF surrounded the Randal Weaver Ranch after shooting one young son in the back while he was hunting on their own property. Where a sniper later shot his wife as she stood before a window while she held their infant son in her arms.

Or unlike Waco, Texas where they surrounded the Branch Davidian Congregation led by David Koresh. Where they shut off all electricity and water to the compound and played loud music at all hours of the night before sending the fire trucks more than five miles away outside the perimeter (‘…for their protection…’) right before the building ‘mysteriously’ caught fire only seconds after the first tank pushed its barrel through the compound walls.

This was indeed not a stand-off because the Church itself was not considered complicit with the actions of the fugitives despite the best efforts of the Prosecution to imply otherwise.

The primates were seeking Asylum in a Sanctuary in a church, a time-honored practice that has been respected for many centuries. Despite innuendo about witchcraft, polyamory and paganism, the attorneys for the Plaintiffs successfully defended The Home for Wayward Souls as a valid church without ties to any other denomination.

Also too many people already knew about the situation and most respected the institution of Asylum within a Sanctuary offered within a church to make it acceptable to just storm the premises by force.

Public knowledge and attention is important. When the trials against the government for their actions against Randal Weaver were being conducted, only C-Span covered it, because CNN and all the other major news networks were too busy giving hourly updates on the attack on olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan by Tanya Harding’s boyfriend.

Keep in mind that PharmaCorp/SAIC/Leidos were the Defense by virtue of the fact that the Primates were charging that they had been inhumanely treated, kidnapped and enslaved, and that they were sentient, self-aware beings entitled to self-determination rather than ownership.

Because the counter-suit for damages and reinstatement of the Primates as their legal property on behalf of PharmaCorp being contingent upon the decisions concerning thenPetition for Asylum, it took a back seat to the charges leveled on behalf of the primates.

And since The Home for Wayward Souls had become a fantastically wealthy non-profit corporation, they had plenty of money to spend on the very best attorneys that money could buy.

Some of the most famous (and expensive) defense lawyers as well as quite a few well-known former prosecutors and two retired judges were clamoring to be a part of their Dream Team.

Enough to successfully challenge one of the most powerful corporations in the world.

This would be yet another case where the principles of Trial by Money would be operant.

But more than this, The Primates had one source of power that no amount of money could buy. They had the support of the brightest and best men and women of good conscience everywhere who were not willing to just stand aside and do nothing.

They awoke the latent rage against injustice that had been lying dormant for decades within the people who could still think and feel.

People who either observed or participated, even if it involved arrest as the civil rights movement raged against the institutionalized machinery of prejudice and protested a war that never should have been started until they stopped it and kept on raising hell and challenging every established institution in our world culture that deserved to be questioned until it turned into a cultural war.

People who knew all too well what it was to fight for their own self-determination. People who refused to die trying to live the lives their parents had been unable to live.

And it turned out that they were everywhere, perhaps long dormant, but once resurrected, they became galvanized by the realization that this might be their one last chance to take a stand against the tyranny of evil men with too much money and power.

The so-called Talking Monkeys sought sanctuary from cruel and unusual treatment and were petitioning the court to have their sentience acknowledged along with certain inalienable rights that would prevent them from being bought and sold like livestock.

They too sought their own version of self-determination.

In the midst of all the carnival atmosphere, somewhere between a Doors concert and a latter-day Woodstock, the lives and rights of many sentient primates (and humans) hung in the balance.

And all the while the band played on. The ArchAngels became what amounted to a modern orchestra, playing in shifts for more than twelve hours a day. All audio and video recording was now done on premises and distributed from there.

A small FM radio station was built with internet web access that broadcast twenty-four hours a day.

They were also available on satellite radio.

Pay-per-view streaming and DVD sales of the programs and Music of the Siege were the best vote of support they could have imagined.

In situations like these, mere donations are devoid of the symbiosis that exists between an exchange of money for art, music or ideals. A donation is a one-way transaction. These supporters were in effect welcoming The Home for Wayward Souls into their hearts and minds, and in the process, they became a part of the movement.

Their music had become a series of anthems and ballads for people everywhere who were looking for something more and wanted to belong to something larger than just themselves.

(…and it was good…very, very good…like…well, by now you should know the rest….)

Sebastian in Court

Despite the legal maneuvering, posturing, politicizing, and other distractions amplified by the media to generate ‘sound bites’ (rather than look deeper because the format is not well suited to hourly updates) there remained several essential questions that would either have to be defined and answered by the courts or else someone in any number of very high places would have to create enough of a diversion lasting at least ninety days to allow for a non-sequitur.

Regardless of anyone’s best intentions, if an issue goes unanswered long enough, the public loses interest because the Court of Public Opinion only generally entertains items and persons of interest suitable for National Enquirer, The Globe, TMZ, The Star, or if they are feeling really high-brow, People Magazine, (The magazine for people who don’t like to read).

Eventually, even Rolling Stone decided to do an article and photo shoot entitled “The Talking Monkeys: The Siege of The Home for Wayward Souls becomes Everyday Zen”.

It was a beautifully photo illustrated cover article with almost three thousand words written by a very articulate young man trying desperately to fill Hunter Thompson’s shoes.

It was the definitive last word on the action, the drama, and what was really at stake, and in so doing issued cease-fire orders as a media event, effectively stating “Nothing More to See Here, Go Back to Your Homes…” knowing full-well that once a verdict was reached, there would be plenty more public attention.

And for everyone at The Sanctuary, although they knew an answer was forthcoming, they were in no real hurry to get any verdicts themselves, even though they seemed to be the only ones who knew what the real questions were…or at least that was what it felt like if you had been there.

They became the new rock stars of the new millennium.

They had all become everyday famous, like ‘Brad-golina’…cheap, plentiful pulp for The Mill.

They knew there was no free lunch, and there was no other way to ride this one out, and no hurry to get to the end, because everyday life was fucking great for the here and now.

Besides, the strawberries were sweet, and the tigers were hungry.

Bravo! Network wanted to do a series called “The Housewives of Polyamory” but the group unanimously agreed to vote any such trash down any time the offer was so much as proffered, .

Because they did not run or shy away from TMZ, no matter how much they tried to put their sleazy spin on any of the actions at the Sanctuary, the fact that its members acted and behaved as if they had nothing to hide, devoid of shame, it became their greatest strength.

The Dog does not chase because he Deer runs. The Deer runs because the Dog cases it.

They were all in for a showdown regarding The Answers, and a great deal would be determined by what Sebastian Galbraith Lodge had to say in court. Needless to say, he was in no way prepared for any of it.

Men like Lodge were meant to be petty bureaucrats. They have the family, the education and the breeding, but deep down, they know that although their position in life is privileged, it is not until their strength and character are challenged that the false bravado of their arrogance bred by too many assurances and self-righteous indulgences since the moment of their birth erodes faster than a sand castle in the Sahara.

Certain government agencies and private corporations specialize in keeping straw men like Lodge around just to throw them to the mob if it actually reaches the castle walls.

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Mr. Lodge, how would you describe your duties and responsibilities at The Center for Primate Studies?”

(Sebastian G. Lodge): “My primary responsibility was to insure that the best interests of Management’s investments were protected. I received directives, not mission statements…I saw to it that they were carried out regardless of my own personal beliefs or feelings.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “Have you not previously stated that you have no background in animal research or laboratory operations of any kind…is that not correct?”

(Sebastian G. Lodge): “Yes. At first I relied upon The Center’s Director for general guidance, but when I found that he was not entirely in alignment with Management’s objectives…as if he believed that he somehow existed outside of their instructions, I determined that his position was expendable.”

“It is not an uncommon trait in academic types…their primary allegiance would appear to be to follow the dictates of their personal belief systems, like Science for Science’s Sake, Truth, Justice, or answering to some Godless mysterious higher power and therefore subject to becoming loose cannons and wild cards….”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “And whistle-blowers?”

(Sebastian G. Lodge): “In my line of work, that is not an appropriate term…all employees are subject to very stringent security protocols. There is no whistle to be blown, because the whistle does not exist within those protocols.”

“The popular term these days is ‘Leaks’ but that is really just a euphemism, and the term ‘whistle-blower’ is no better. Potentially, this could involve treason. It was my job to keep our information secure and protect our assets.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “And just whose assets would that be?”

(Sebastian G. Lodge): “Without trying to sound too evasive, it would be fair to say that I am hired as a consultant for PharmaCorp who is subcontracted, to insure that my primary employers, who are the contractors get best utilization and return on their investments and protection of their assets.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorney): “And that is your best ability to not sound too evasive?…Let’s get to the point…who are your real employers?…to whom do you ultimately answer?”

After a great deal of time in the judge’s chambers, it was mutually agreed that Sebastian Galbraith Lodge’s answer would be Science Applications International Corporation and/or LEIDOS (an acronym that emerged from the word Kaleidoscope and was spawned when the courts ordered the breakup of certain functions of SAIC).

It was also agreed that no further inquiries would be made as to the exact nature or purpose of SAIC/LEIDOS pursuits…“in the interests of national security….”

The official doctrine was that the experiments by PharmaCorp centered around the so-called ‘Talking Monkeys Project’ as a way of minimizing expenses to conduct telemarketing strategies while exploring the potential for simian communication to and from humans, as well as identifying primal motivations as an indicator of human behavior and its potential for additional modifications.

The excursions to North Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas were dubbed as ‘retreats’ to help better study ways to offset the potential for Repetitive Thought Injury, the existence of which they neither acknowledged or denied, but were merely looking for a way to ‘optimize the performances’ of their test subjects.

There were to be no further inquiries about their activities off-campus beyond that point.

The Plaintiffs considered this to be a huge concession on the part of Management to avoid addressing the much bigger pariah of Commando Chimps leading a shadow army at the bequest of a ‘government within the government protecting a nation within the nation.’

(Plaintiff’s Attorneys): “Would it be fair to state that you were completely dependent upon the information and data that you received from your researchers?”

(Sebastian Galbraith Lodge): “To the extent that I felt comfortable with their allegiances…I simply forwarded the data to Management to let them decide how it should be interpreted.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorneys): “Was it your Management that deemed it necessary to instead conduct surveillance of the personal lives and religious pursuits of those researchers?”

(Sebastian Galbraith Lodge): “Not initially, but I cleared it through channels on the basis of the fact that since Frederick was leaving campus, there was the potential for harm to come to our most valuable test subject…the subject of the potential for kidnap had been raised, for instance…Stanley Linderman was the ideal agent to protect those interests…and his loyalties were beyond reproach.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorneys): “Yes, indeed, he was very careful to maintain your mutual deniability about subpoenaed inquiries made by you in email and text messages, in regard to certain aspects of the religious and sexual practices of all of the members of The Home for Wayward Souls, including reports that were also subpoenaed that nonetheless begged the question of who ordered them….”

(Sebastian Galbraith Lodge): “Was there a question in there somewhere?”

(Plaintiff’s Attorneys): “Who ordered the additional invasions of their privacy, and under what authority?”

(Sebastian Galbraith Lodge): “Under the circumstances, I would say it was well-advised, considering the outcome. I stand behind my decision.”

(Plaintiff’s Attorneys): “Was it also your decision to withhold the information about disturbing behavioral signs exhibited by so many of the primates? Is it just possible that you let your personal beliefs about the origins of Man and Creationism cloud your judgement regarding acknowledgement of the sentience of anything other than Man?” 

(Sebastian Galbraith Lodge): “It is still my contention that the rebellion, and escape of the primates, as well as the destruction of PharmaCorp’s properties and loss of income are the direct result of seditious ideas implanted by the members of their cult including some of the highest-ranking and most trusted PharmaCorp research employees under the direction of their so-called minister…he claims no religious affiliation to any specific denomination, but any right-minded individual can easily recognize the words of Satan coming from the mouth of that Serpent in the Garden….”

Even the crickets stopped their ‘Restless-Leg Serenade to a Wool Sweater’ in mid-chirp.

(For the third time since this story began, a fly was suddenly startled by the sound of a pin dropping to the floor.)

Interestingly enough, this was also one of those few times in jurisprudence where the Plaintiffs did NOT wish to have the remarks of a member of the Defense stricken from the record although the Defense Attorneys did, but not before the Plaintiffs pointed out that…

“In order to be seduced or even mislead, the parties in question had to possess the ability to make a decision in the first place.”

The jurors were instead instructed to regard Mr. Lodge’s remarks to be wholly his own opinion, and in no way representative of PharmaCorp’s policies or procedures, and court was summarily adjourned for the day.

Tomorrow they would ask the really big questions, like:

“Were the Primates really self-aware…and sentient?”

…or:

“If so, were they responsible for the consequences of their actions? …and when did Sebastian first learn of their higher levels of consciousness? …And what did he do when he did become aware of it?”

…or:

“If they were sentient, were they not entitled to rebel against inhumane treatment, given their level of consciousness?”

…or for that matter:

“What level of intelligence or self-awareness entitles a living being to self-determination, especially if they can demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate those desires?”

…or even:

“Are there some things that any sentient being can decline to be subjected that humans may willingly embrace, or is it simply inhumane no matter who is required to do it?”

Humans willingly surrender their self-determinism, their will, their civil rights and civil liberties and even the lives of their children before they are even born…every day.

They choose to wallow in greed and ignorance thinly disguised by  jealous insecurities stimulating consumerism in the name of the public safety and the greater good.

There is slavery as well as safety in numbers. The self-proclaimed protectors of the weak will never quit filling their pockets through the labors and votes of those who believe they cannot protect themselves and the sympathies of those too lazy and clueless to do it as a natural course of action.

…and:

“Who will protect us from our protectors?”

These Questions Shall be Answered

For the rest of his testimony, Sebastian G. Lodge did his best to avoid any admissions of accountability for the messy embarrassment that The Center for Primate Studies had spawned, but his best was clearly not good enough for a situation such as this.

When pressed for answers as to why he ignored the findings of the researchers who were reporting evidence of accelerated advances in learning, perception and behaviors that pointed toward self-awareness and sentience, he stated that he did not believe in evolution, and as a creationist, it was abhorrent to concede that Man had evolved from Primates, especially since they did not possess a soul.

He did his homework as far as documentation of the platforms and arguments used by states that still to this day do not acknowledge Evolution, quoting verse and chapter of the basis of his beliefs.

He stated that for those reasons, he ignored the findings.

When pressed for answers as to why he also ignored the growing evidence of Repetitive Thought Brain Injury amongst the Chimps and Bonobos, he said that he found the data inconclusive and non-compelling to warrant further study, admonishing the researchers for not utilizing their time and efforts in more productive pursuits more in keeping with Management’s directives.

He then further added that in his own opinion, the primates were “just not up to the task” assigned to them, but quickly added that he nonetheless followed each and every directive mandated by Management, regardless of his personal beliefs.

He did admit that it was his choice to fire Mark and Darcy due to what he described as their ‘complicity’ in the rebellion of the Chimps, but refused to comment on just how it came to pass that these ‘mere animals’ had managed to accomplish their acts of anarchy, suggesting that it was ‘provoked,’ begging the question of how they came to those conclusions or plans of action.

He claimed to have no knowledge of the chemical composition of either the amphetamine-laced reward pellets or the so-called vitamins given to them in the evenings that contained the Xanax that kept them calm and compliant and allowed them to sleep.

The Plaintiff’s attorneys produced documentation that indicated that the pellets were manufactured by Pharmacorp’s original parent company, Benchmark Pharmaceuticals, but there was no documentation to link the use of the pellets or any acknowledgment of their chemical composition by Management.

The longer Lodge remained on the witness stand, the more smug and self-righteous he became and it was reflected in his posture as he puffed himself up when testifying as to his religious beliefs, and his sneering disdain of Science in general or his disgust over the actions of the members of The Home For Wayward Souls and all other ‘false profits’ and ‘New-Age Cults posing as religions that glorify Pagan worship and perversion.’

When Lodge returned to his home that evening, he was surprised to find his direct supervisor waiting for him. He wasted no time in explaining that due to the adverse publicity over the situation at The Center for Primate Studies, he would be placed on Administrative Leave of Absence until another suitable assignment could be found that was befitting a man of his talents.

Years before, they had been friends, but there was little compassion or warmth in the delivery of the message. In fact, it was most conspicuous in its absence.

He was told to avoid the public in general and the press in particular and was to make absolutely no remarks to anyone regarding his actions, thoughts or anything else even remotely associated with the case.

With that, he shook Lodge’s hand and left without making eye contact. It felt like the kiss of death.

The Verdict

The jury was sequestered for weeks after the end of the trial. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) one lone juror sympathized with Sebastian Galbraith Lodge’s actions and beliefs to such an extent that it almost resulted in a hung jury.

An elderly woman of devout faith, and a Baptist, she shared many of Lodge’s beliefs, and admired him for the courage of his convictions.

She also strongly disapproved of what she regarded as ‘an abomination’ concerning what she understood of Ash and his followers’ practices, especially the polyamory.

She likewise did not consider The Home for Wayward Souls to be a legitimate church, but recognized that just like the Catholics, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Mormons, or ‘even the Jews,’ they were entitled to the pursuit of their religious freedoms and practices.

Eventually, the other jurors convinced her that it was not Lodge who was on trial, but rather a question of whether it was appropriate to ‘own’ a sentient being in the first place like a slave or chattel property, subject to the whims of their owners.

She however, was a creationist, like Lodge, so the ownership of animals, let alone their sentience, was not subject to question, but she was also a member of PETA, and felt that it was unreasonable to place such high expectations, stress and pressure on a ‘poor dumb animal.’

She cared for and fed three ‘rescue dogs’, four cats, and a parrot she had taught to say ‘praise the Lord,’ and sing ‘Jesus loves me’ that she had owned for over forty years.

Although it seemed as if she had not been paying any attention to Frederick’s compelling testimony, they were content to let her sympathize with the Primates as long as it resulted in their freedom.

It was impossible to charge the primates with any crimes, given the fact that, in the eyes of the courts, they were still animals.

But when it came to deciding their ultimate fate, the jury nonetheless agreed that their treatment had been cruel and inhumane, and that they should not be subject to further experiments of any kind.

The Plaintiff’s Attorneys had already prepared an offer to buy the Primates from PharmaCorp for an amount approximately four times what was considered ‘market value’ but further added that it was not to be considered a purchase, but rather an act of emancipation as ransom for their freedom.

The jury also agreed that The Home for Wayward Souls was in no way responsible for the initial actions of the primates, or for any damages or losses incurred by PharmaCorp.

All parties conceded that an eventual determination would have to be made by the courts as to the acknowledgement of their sentience and civil rights and liberties, but it was clearly beyond the authority of this court to do so at that time.

Ash and his congregation agreed to accept responsibility for the care and further actions of the Primates in much the same way that a parent of a disabled adult would.

Both the Chimps and Bonobos were very content in their habitat of the lush tropical areas surrounding the seven acres upon which the The Sanctuary resided and had made no attempt to leave the property, which they now considered to be their territory, and which they thoroughly enjoyed patrolling, like a citizens’ crime watch.

An eight-foot chain link fence surrounded the entire perimeter, acting as a line of demarcation for all parties concerned, and no one dared enter the premises except through the front gate.

In a statement to the press, it was announced that Mark and Darcy would be charged with their care and education including further studies of their developmental and communications abilities on a voluntary basis, which they intended to use to establish their legal rights as sentient, self-aware beings capable of communicating their choices and desires in their own pursuit of happiness.

All costs would be covered by The Home for Wayward Souls as part of their stated purpose as a non-profit corporation devoted to the pursuit of higher consciousness.

It was also agreed that any further legal action on the part of PharmaCorp (or any of its unnamed agents) would cease with prejudice and the amount paid by the church would be considered settlement in full with no admissions of guilt by anyone.

It was a day of triumph for Frederick and the other Primates; a day of liberation to be celebrated by everyone at the Sanctuary.

Darcy was near her due date and her delivery of the twins was immanent, but she was incredibly healthy and in great spirits as she waddled down the steps of the courthouse with Frederick and Mark hand-in-hand surrounded by Ash, Kali, Merle, Charles, Suki and Anastasia. Stanley Linderman was also with them.

Although Frederick was no longer the property of Stan’s employers, he was still ‘on point’  more as a matter of habit, and it was his intention to resign his position to come to work for The Home for Wayward Souls as a ‘security consultant.’

An offer had already been made by Ash and the council of the church to pay him handsomely to keep the carnival atmosphere that had surrounded them all under control.

As popular as they had become, they were not without their detractors and sworn enemies, mostly fundamentalist Christians.

Stanley had never been so content or happy before. He believed that he was finally in the right place at the right time to do something he felt he was born to do.

Frederick even stopped on the steps for a photo-op to ‘Dance like a Monkey’ for the press, flashing the V for Victory sign with both hands, and then suddenly signing “It’s a great day to be me.”

It was a glorious day and it seemed as if nothing could stop them now.

Before the Phoenix Rises Again…

Stan noticed the man’s eyes before he even recognized that they belonged to Sebastian G. Lodge. What caught his attention was the absolute malevolence that betrayed his intentions long before Stan even saw the gun.

If you are trying to provide personal protective services in a large crowd, it is easy to get lost in a sea of details of the entire crowd. It is much quicker to scan the crowd for the eyes that will tell you their motive from across a room…or a plaza.

If the eyes don’t look right, suspect a motive, then look around for the details that indicate the owner has a plan and the means to constitute a clear and present danger or a threat.

It is easy to spot murderous rage or malice, but Stan also knew how to spot the cold, calculating eyes of a professional sizing up all the other details surrounding your protected charge. Although they too are conspicuous to just the right eyes, Lodge’s eyes literally telegraphed his emotions.

Stan was already reacting instinctively in a very long series of reflex arcs that had been initiated by plan, by practice, and by execution more than enough times to ensure that they occurred without conscious thought or mental action…the Tao of the Gun.

Before he recognized Lodge he had already thrown his body into the path of his adversary…Instinctively, and without hesitation as he drew his weapon a very few milliseconds before Lodge produced his.

He did not have to wait to act…anticipation is the first step in establishing and maintaining control before it can ever be lost.

Lodge’s eyes were like two hard-boiled eggs floating in a bowl of beets…his face was contorted with twisted rage and unfocused pain. He looked like he had been drinking and crying all night, and snot dripped from his nose into his gaping, drooling mouth while he seemed to gasp for air as he began firing at the center of the group.

Four rounds struck Stan as he leaped, still hanging in mid-air; three in his chest, striking his body-armor, as one grazed the outside margin of his right thigh, throwing a small puff of blood, skin and material from his pants into the air as it ripped through everything that stood before it.

It seemed like the whole event was in extreme slow-motion as Stan heard the report of the shots, the whiz of the bullets, the thump they produced on his chest, the sight of Lodge’s semi-automatic pistol recoiling and Ka-Chunking another round into the chamber as empty brass flew into the air, raining down on the courthouse steps with the tinkling ring of death reverberating and splashing around them, although most people only heard the shots themselves.

Stan watched as he saw Lodge’s chest explode before the sight profile of his pistol as he triple-tapped the cardiac silhouette. He did not execute the customary head shot because it was too close quarters to shoot anything but center of mass for fear of striking a non-combatant. He did not have to think about it. That was just the way it was…Instinct…Reflex arc…before thinking.

In crisis, you revert to your most basic level of training.

A head shot through the tip of the nose as far down as the bottoms of the lower row of teeth, or through the ears or just below the base of the occipital region above the spine would have produced a flaccid paralysis kill rendering Lodge unable to even pull the trigger of his weapon.

Stanley knew how to do it…like in Genesis, where “Zofran Knew Sarah, or Rachel, or Hanna…(or better still, all three) and it was Good….” Biblical knowledge involves the most intimate of familiarity…not just how to….but in fact to do, as well as when not to…when there is zero margin for collateral damage.

That’s the disadvantage one faces when they are forced to be fighting on the side of Good…Lodge was not so constrained….did not have to worry about the outcome of his actions, like stray bullets for instance.

Just the same, Stan did the best anyone could have hoped to do in the situation. Stan was the very best of those who did what he did…He was almost perfect….

Lodge was dead before he hit the ground. You could have told so by the sound if you knew what to listen for…like hearing a sack of meat hit the sidewalk from six feet up. Half splat, half thud and no rebound whatsoever.

It wasn’t until he heard Darcy’s scream that he knew for sure that almost perfect wasn’t quite good enough…as he realized that Lodge had fired five times…or how that one fifth round, fired as Lodge was dying, already headed for the ground had ricocheted  off a stone step and struck Frederick in the chest.

As the news cameras captured it, Frederick signed “Carry me in your heart” to Darcy, who was holding his head and shoulders on her legs, next to her swollen belly.

Then all of the members of the group heard Frederick’s best, most sonorous voice in their minds as he told them “It’s still a good day to be me…I have done, and seen and thought things no mere Ape could imagine…I love you all… please protect our children…they are the sons and daughters of Man, the same way Man was the Son of God…their fate lies in your hands and hearts…Remember me to them…and remember to talk to them in our special way.”

He also simultaneously visually signed the thoughts he sent to the members of the group for the benefit of all those who would witness it…either now or later…courtesy of those who would capture that moment forever on cameras…his last living communications with the world.

Thoughts and words that would be subject to much debate as to their meaning for a long time….

As Ash and Merle rushed the other members of the group into the limousine, Stan cradled the body of Frederick in his arms and carried him to the shelter of the vehicle as Frederick took his last breaths.

When Rescue showed up, they pronounced Lodge dead, and tried to bandage Stan’s wound, which Anastasia had temporarily dressed with Stan’s (unused) handkerchief and his tie, but the paramedics apologized that they could not risk “contamination” of their equipment by Frederick’s blood or bodily fluids.

The police were everywhere and nowhere at the same time, taking statements, setting up a perimeter and marking it with ‘Crime Scene: and ‘Police Line. Do Not Cross’ tape, photographing everything in and out of sight, marking angles of trajectory, cataloging and bagging spent shell casings, drawing two chalk lines, and documenting and sampling every drop of blood that anyone could find, yet somehow seeming to take forever, while fighting and posturing over rank, jurisdiction, procedures, protocols, and press releases, as well as the relative length of every other cop’s penis within a five-mile radius.

Eventually, everyone got back home to the Sanctuary. The police were remarkably blasé about releasing Frederick’s body to them almost immediately.

The group was grateful for that, but it hurt to hear the officer in charge declare “…it would be different if he was human….”.

A trauma surgeon was summoned to the Sanctuary to attend to Stan’s wound.

Had he been a police officer, he would have been on administrative suspension with pay pending an investigation, but he was not so constrained.

There was no DA willing to charge him until proven otherwise, like a regular citizen could anticipate, but he was no hero either. He had been assigned to protect Frederick who was now dead, and although he undoubtedly saved the lives of the others, there are no consolation prizes in Heroism.

Management had no further interests in the case. Frederick was dead and he, as well as the other Primates were now the property of The Home for Wayward Souls as far as they were concerned.

Lodge would have represented the last loose end in the whole equation, had he not conveniently self-destructed the way he did. Management immediately began to begin the process of demonizing Lodge to the public to give them sufficient distancing from his actions.

Management had also suspected that Stan was ‘compromised’ for some time now, but in the scheme of things, his continued discretion was considered guaranteed in a way that would serve their purposes.

The continued safety of the members of The Home for Wayward Souls was in Management’s best interests…at least for an appropriate length of time for the public to forget them and turn their attention back to the regularly scheduled programming of current events designed to promote the economy and the public’s best interest of neurotic consumption.

An additional midwife was waiting for them, but Anastasia took charge of her emotions and focused on Darcy’s care in much less time than anyone…even Anastasia…would have thought possible.

If you are a nurse, that is how you cope. You focus on the lives that need to be saved…and the lives of the yet unborn…postpone the grieving for the dead…its called Triage…you learn about it in school, but when you are forced to do it in real life, you (later) realize how it protected you, no matter how hard it is later to reconcile your grief, for that moment you are protected by the actions you take.

Make no mistake…every time you let one of your patients into your personal space, if you let yourself be touched by their humanity… what you don’t know at the time is that whether you save their life, or not…if you protect and sustain them until they can be turned over to a higher level of care, you will carry those emotions felt and witnessed by you within you forever…or until they get replaced…pushed out…by something worse, or better…as the well begins to overflow….

Darcy was not in labor yet, the fetuses were not in distress…at least not now…but she knew, and Darcy sensed, that to not prepare for the inevitable would be to invite disaster.

Ash called a friend of his who was a Neonatologist at Miami Children’s Hospital. They had been undergraduates at Gainesville together and he played the baritone sax exquisitely. He was to be there… ‘just in case….’

They were as ready as they could be, given the circumstances.

And then, when they least expected it, the grief…the realization…the internalization of it all struck all of  them almost simultaneously.

Ash was trying in vain to find a Mortician to prepare the body, when someone suggested a cremation, which was then envisioned as a funeral pyre about the time that Darcy began to weep, then sob uncontrollably.

The grief swept over them like a giant wave as they began to hold, hug, and kiss each other as they surrounded Darcy. In moments like that, grief so shared boils quickly to the surface much more strongly than most people could possibly experience alone, and yet in so sharing they become galvanized by it.

The chimps and bonobos had been in the public area outside the Sanctuary and were celebrating and dancing as the verdict was announced. They also witnessed the news footage of Frederick’s assassination shortly afterward.

Malkira and Lilith were at the rectory awaiting the arrival of the limousine, and been shown their son’s body and allowed to sit with him to grieve. The other chimps and bonobos stood vigil outside.

When she calmed herself a bit, Darcy asked Merle to please administer her a proper dosage of The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Merle agreed that the ability of any of the known effects of the drug to affect any harm to the neonates or to her was extremely unlikely, but he nonetheless felt compelled to ask her if she felt she was mentally prepared for the effects of the drug.

“I have nothing to fear…I intend to embrace all knowledge and experience as it comes to me from this moment on…and I invite everyone else to join me poolside, because I have the distinct premonition that I will be delivering my babies very soon…and since we are all family…I think everyone should experience the event according to their own level of comfort, and that we should all experience it together….”

“Count in (on) us…me…and Charlie…” (no one ever calls him that but her, btw…) “…right Honey-Cock? As one life (is) ushered out, new life enters…no?

Suki was usually the first to volunteer, or for that matter, the first to get naked whenever the opportunity presented itself.

That was one of her most endearing and charming features…that, and her ability to seem like she was on a trampoline while everyone else was on solid ground all around her.

With that, Ash, Kali and Mark nodded in agreement and approached Merle to accept the Sacrament as well.

Five minutes later, they were all naked in the pool with Darcy, who was sitting on the steps holding the rail with her left arm, bracketed by Anastasia and the midwife on either side.

Much earlier, it had been decided that Darcy would birth her children in the water and for weeks now, the solar heaters had kept the temperature at just below 100 degrees, so as to mimic body temperature. Anastasia had delivered two of her own ‘water-babies’ years before, and she recommended it highly.

Kali and Suki set up cauldrons for the scrying. They were certain the The Ancient Ones would be there for the birthing.

Sobee and Sharma were scampering around in the bushes and flower beds beside the front doors, playfully anticipating if they should have to transform into sentinels, ever on the alert, but playfully good-natured about it all. They could go from chameleon to iguana to dragon in the blink of an eye, and back again just as fast.

Charles called them the ‘Quantum Lizards’…explaining how they could transform in ‘Planck Time,’ (basically faster than anyone could measure it…something like ‘1 second to the negative forty-third power’), so that they could do as they pleased, and if they did it in a closed universe, they could expand the interval of Quantum Probability far beyond that.

And even in an open universe, if they could transform back and forth that quickly, the persistence of vision would make them appear to be solid and permanent in whatever form they chose.

From the level of Quantum, sub-atomic particles to atoms, to planets, to solar systems, to galaxies within a universe, most of it is empty space. For instance, the ‘vacuum of empty space’ in deep space possess mass. The total mass of the entire universe is composed of more than eighty per-cent Dark Matter and the combined mass/energy of the universe is over eighty-seven percent Dark Matter/Dark Energy.

On the Quantum level, it is possible for two objects to be in the same place at the same time, and that one object could be in more than one place at the same time.

“Form is Form, Emptiness is Emptiness…

Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form…

No Form, no Emptiness…

An elephant rides a mouse that dances to the song of a guitar with no strings…

Form is Form, Emptiness is Emptiness.”

They were the ‘Great Embezzlers of Time and Space’ as it turns out, and just liked to hang out at the Sanctuary whenever there was something interesting happening and very special doormen were needed.

It was a beautiful night. The moon was full and the sky was absolutely clear.

The ArchAngels were playing a four-hour song cycle they had written several months before in anticipation of the arrival of the twins.

Charles had Lothar set up multiple video cameras to capture whatever appeared in, from or around the cauldrons so as to project it onto the screen that flew above the gardens outside the Sanctuary.

Raul, the talking Cuban Tree Frog was there as well, narrating and reporting for the Intergalactic Geographic Channel in his customarily hushed golf tournament narrative voice-over.

It was a strange and beautiful night. One in which the despair and tragedy of Frederick’s death was nearly eclipsed by the ushering in of new life; where great victories were marred by great personal loss.

Twin souls were standing in the wings, waiting to make their appearance on the stage of Life. It was already guaranteed that they would be loved and cared for in ways for which few children could ever hope or dream.

Not all children await such an auspicious entry into Life, but for those who do, it does not matter if they are destined to become luminary figures the world will long remember, or just another lost soul who found a good place to land for a while.

Jesus was born in a manger. Lincoln was born in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. Somewhere, right now, a Buddha is being born, although no one knows it yet. No one ever knows what will be the fate of children at the time of their birth. It is enough just for them to be born.

The news of the day heard around the world would be of Frederick’s murder, with an anecdotal reference to the birth of the children in the Sanctuary, but for the members of this church of common mind and heart, it would forever remain a day of bittersweet contrast of the best and worst aspects of what it is to be alive.

This was to be a very special and wondrous night.

The Arrival

When Darcy’s water broke, everyone but Darcy, Mark, Anastasia, and the midwife got out of the pool, preferring to lend their support and encouragement from the sidelines.

Episiotomies are the most frequently performed unnecessary operation in the United States (depending upon your opinion on circumcision), followed closely by cesarean section because doctors are simply not willing to take the time necessary to properly prepare a woman to birth children in the way that they have done since the beginning of time.

And because time is money, greed is the prime motivator in those decisions followed closely by laziness, a lack of imagination and an unwillingness to embrace a multi-disciplined, holistic mode of therapy.

It is never easy to deliver twins, and they are considered a ‘high-risk’ case at best, but if there are no other complications, midwives will better prepare a woman to deliver just by virtue of the way in which they facilitate the effacement and dilation of the labia, and vulva, thereby rendering a tear-free delivery…in most cases, which was why the Neonatologist was also present…for all the other complications that could possibly arrive.

Cutting the perineum as a pre-emptive alternative to tearing is like amputating a limb to prevent a future break that may never occur. The simple fact that the suturing done to stitch the episiotomy frequently results in painful postpartum sex, sometimes for years seems to escape most doctors, who never feel a thing.

Anastasia had met Kat(rina) while they were studying together in nursing school. They became fast friends during some very fast times, but eventually Kat dropped out to study acupuncture and become a midwife. She had also delivered both of Anastasia’s children under water.

Darcy had watched her youngest sister being born at home on the kitchen table because her mother could not afford health care insurance. She had come from a family of commercial fishermen in tidewater Virginia and most of her early life had been spent learning how to ‘make do’ on next to nothing just to survive.

To suddenly be the primary focus for any needs she or her children could ever want for with money no object was to feel gratefully empowered in ways she had never before known.

It takes a very special kind of woman to pull and stretch the surrounding flesh of the vagina sufficiently to accommodate the delivery of a child. If you have ever been privileged to witness a birth with the assistance of a midwife and compare it to any hospital delivery you’ve ever seen you quickly realize  how nurturing and baby-friendly the former is compared to the industrial atmosphere of a hospital delivery.

Many women may tend to feel uncomfortable touching another woman in such an intimate manner as is done by the midwife, but compared to almost all males, they are generally more nurturant and intimate with each other, perhaps by nature, or perhaps because our culture does not embrace homophobia as tenaciously among females as by the generally fearful, self-conscious, strutting, posturing roosters that the males of our species are so often want to make of themselves, especially in their early youth.

Regardless, some women are also programmed for nurturance from a very early age and Kat was one of them. She loved women as much as she did men and she fearlessly and un-self-consciously embraced an inborn commitment to caring for anyone who deserved her attentions.

And in all fairness, if an OB/GYN doctor were to perform the same procedures in a hospital setting, they would probably be up on charges before they left the parking lot.

Discretion is the lesbian consigliere of Valor.

Meanwhile, most of the Ancient Ones had arrived. The spirits of Lukumi, Los Guerreros, Roti, The Dark Mother (Kali’s almost accidental namesake), Ganesh, and seemingly countless others either sat perched upon the peak of the roof, on the branches of the surrounding trees, or were joining Darcy, Mark, Anastasia and Kat, the midwife in the water, which is one of the most amazing and provocative ways to experience their presence.

Water that contains the usual minerals and electrolytes found in either municipal systems or well water is an excellent conductor of electro-magnetic energy, and sea-water is slightly hypertonic to bodily fluids and therefore an even better conductor of energy, especially if it contains amniotic fluids.

A number of  the Ancient Ones liked to playfully caress, poke and prod those who can allow themselves to be open to the sensations they impart as they flash back and forth across the pool like dolphins preparing to tail-walk over the water.

As the contractions came closer and closer together and her dilation increased, the cauldrons began to boil and steam and it was at just about that same time when Boop-Oopa-Doop (aka “Betty”) flew in and landed in a Key Lime tree next to the fires beneath the cauldrons.

“What’s up, Toots?” she asked of no one in particular.

Almost in unison, they waved and replied “Boop-Oopa-Doop!” She was widely known throughout the multi-verse, and generally well-liked by all.

As a fellow embezzler of time and space, She was quite adept in arriving precisely when what appeared to be a portent of something spectacular was just about to happen.

The visions that appeared in the cauldrons were similar to those that had foretold of Darcy’s ordained place within the primary group.

It was the image of Darcy surrounded by thousands of primates doing the Bandaloop Dance at sunset. This time, there was a melody that could be heard by everyone, yet recognized by no one, except the primates outside the Sanctuary, and perhaps Darcy, who also began to hum along with it.

The ArchAngels, who were watching and listening to the images and sounds projected and amplified from the cameras quickly incorporated it into their song cycle while the saxophones began to answer and the rest of the band reinforced the melody with harmonizations and counterpoint of their own.

In the area beneath the screens, the Primates had assembled to perform the Bandaloop Dance in unison with the video feed from the cauldrons. They never seemed to need any coaching; it was as if it was something native to their instincts.

As the singing and dancing reached a crescendo, Darcy delivered the first of the twins, a vigorously healthy screaming female, followed in due time by an equally beautiful and perfect male.

There was no video coverage of the delivery, but everyone who witnessed it poolside fell into silence as they each recognized the uniqueness of the twins.

‘Unique’ is one of the most frequently misused words of the last fifty years, but in this case it was no hyperbole, because in the entire history of the earth, there has never been any children born who possessed the appearance of these two children.

The female was thankfully much less hirsute than the male and absolutely gorgeous to behold, but there was a decidedly simian appearance to her which was not so much apparent until one saw the two of them together, because the male was undoubtedly the offspring of Frederick, who was himself the only one of his kind.

Aside from a slightly exaggerated supra-orbital ridge, somewhat longer than average arm length compared to their overall length and a little more space between the bottom of the nose and the top of the upper lip they looked very much like any other human infant, except for the feet, which were structurally identical to those of the Chimpanzee. This meant that both of the twins had four opposable thumbs each.

This would prove to be the beta upgrade to human feet for these children, who quickly learned to use them like a second pair of hands whenever their shoes were off, which never happened in public, lest  it give away the identity of their father.

But perhaps most importantly, their spines and pelvis, as well as the alignment of their hips were consistent with bi-pedal ambulation. Also, their foramen magnums were located more anteriorly at the bases of the skulls, consistent with a vertical stance directly above the spine.

Given the genetic diversity of the human animal, their appearance was surprisingly human.

The eventual legal decision as to whether or not they be considered Hominid would be prolonged as much as possible for their protection, but eventually, after they are given the opportunity to establish the authenticity of their genetic structure, as young adults it would become their time to be recognized as to who they really were.

Since they were not born in a hospital, although their footprints were recorded and notarized by their attorneys, no publicly accessible documents would be filed unless absolutely necessary.

Because the dearth of research, evidence and testimony of Frederick was so well documented, he alone would best serve as the face, the voice, the words and the ideas of a truly self-aware, sentient being demanding his rights to recognition of his ascension to a higher level than was previously judged as at least adequate by the gatekeepers of the most exclusive country club in the animal kingdom called Humanity.

Once his case was won in court, the twins would have their day of recognition and autonomy without outside interference.

It was uncanny however in the way in which their facial expressions were the visage of Frederick’s. Not something one could quite put their finger on to tell of the identify of the father unless you knew Frederick well enough to recognize the similarities.

Although their skin was quite pale, their hair was jet black, but finer than that of the other great apes. Their features looked beautifully exotic…perhaps slightly Asian, or even African or some allele of the North American aboriginals; refined, yet primal, with very large, dark brown eyes. They were strangely beautiful, and once you began to look at them, it was almost impossible to avert your eyes from their soulful faces.

To a casual observer they appeared to be beautiful normal humans in nearly all aspects, but given the transcendent understanding between the members of the group, it was immediately common knowledge as to the paternity of both of them, though no one spoke directly of it that night, because they already knew that everyone else knew.

The remarkable similarity of the genes and chromosomes between Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans with human genetic DNA had enabled a union of Frederick’s sperm and two of Darcy’s eggs, despite a long-successful tubal ligation.

Vigorously demanding their evolutionary participation in the replication of their currently unique species, they out swam all the other combined seeds deposited into Darcy’s love canal that evening, just as two eggs had also almost inexplicably made a quantum leap past what was believed to be an impenetrable barrier.

There have been legends and rumors of unions with either male or female human participants and simians throughout the last fifty years or more, but no surviving evidence and great hatred, disgust and violent hostility are often expressed at even the mention of such offspring.

A doctor in Malaysia for instance who allegedly intended to artificially inseminate two female orangutans with human sperm more than forty years ago was murdered, and his laboratory and domestic facilities burned to the ground along with the two female orangutans.

A mere rumor possibly fabricated by poachers that Diane Fossi was copulating with the gorillas whom she was studying likewise may have prompted her murder.

The subject of interspecies erotica is likely to invoke images of Tijuana donkey-shows, women from Amsterdam copulating with huge canines or sheepherders and hillbillies in general. Once the sniggering and fascination over the perceived degradation of the human subjects stops (shortly after the titillation factor wears off), the tendency is to get hautily self-righteous and violent.

As disgusted and revolted as so many claim to be, few can or will avert their eyes once they should witness it.

The book of Leviticus states that if a man shall lay with an animal, that they both shall be killed. It seems unfathomable that the ancient Hebrews believed that somehow the animal was complicit in the commission of the act, but then again, the book of Leviticus is harsh, which may explain why it is such a favorite of Pentecostals and other similarly bloodthirsty and judgmental fundamentalist Christians.

If you stop and think about it, the only true fundamentalist Christians would be the Messianic Jews who were the descendants of either the authors or scribes of the early new testament and the Dead Sea scrolls.

Ironically, it should be noted that some of the most dangerous fundamentalists would be the modern-day ultra right-wing sex-and-pleasure-hating American fundamentalist Christians, who generally want no part whatsoever of Judaism (including the Old Testament) unless it justify self-serving, vindictive, self-righteous wrath, punishment and judgmental retribution. (Muslim Jihadists notwithstanding…keeping in mind that it was the authors of the Crusades who had also sown those seeds.)

The twins were the first scientifically verifiable prototype of this union, and no one intended to make the results known to the general public for the sake of the safety of all parties concerned.

As you may recall, during The Great Eurasian Leap Forward, after Man first diverged from his primal ancestors, the offspring showed a remarkable increase in each successive generation in intellectual capacity due to the doubling of the SRGAP2  gene despite an eventually lowered total brain mass compared to the earlier, larger Neanderthal.

Also, the same genes responsible for language development were also responsible for producing finer, more luxurious hair.

Similarly, these children would later prove to be far more advanced than any primate…even Frederick, had ever been.

In the light of the previous events of the day, everyone in attendance was openly grateful for the revelation of the paternity of the children.

No one had suspected, least of all Darcy that it was even within the range of possibility that she was capable of conception in the first place, let alone by way of the world’s one and only Bonanzee.

Everyone in attendance openly displayed tears of joy as Anastasia and Mark helped hold the twins to Darcy’s breasts. She was absolutely radiant, looking for all the world like the proudest mother of all time…the way every mother should.

It was about this time that the visions from  the cauldrons began to change. A face began to appear that looked as if it was painted in smoke. Although initially vague and indistinct, it eventually took on the appearance of Frederick’s face.

Although the synchronization between the lips and the voice that everyone heard was delayed, nonetheless everyone who witnessed it clearly perceived the sound of Frederick’s voice in their heads as clearly as if he was personally whispering the words directly into their ears.

It was later confirmed that whether or not they had taken The Knowledge everyone who heard them verified the words that Frederick imparted to them.

First he repeated his last words spoken to the world at the time of his death. The recordings that were made of the camera feeds showed the video, but no audio was recorded. Fortunately, for posterity he also signed his message as he had before.

To it, he added a final remark. “For those who wished me harm, you have not seen the last of me. I was not born to be so easily dispatched. For those of you who knew and loved me, you too have not seen the last of me, because there is so much more to unfold as our work progresses.”

“Just as Man received a hand-up fifty-thousand years ago, it is now time for Man to lend his hand to his simian cousins to allow the natural evolutionary process to begin again. Who amongst you would deny us that opportunity?”

“Since the time when Man first traded Instinct and Intuition for Reason, he has suffered for it on so many levels that the members of our inner circle have now only really begun to realize.”

“The ancestors of Man can provide him your connection to our mutual primal past, including telepathy…if you can just learn to stop talking and relying on words to express yourselves. You have as much to gain as we do in the symbiosis of our union.”

“Our children will become the beta-version of Mankind. It is time to embrace our next evolutionary quantum leap.”

“Keep me in your hearts so that my spirit may abide there with you all as you raise our children together.”

This was clearly an event that had shocked and surprised a group who had become accustomed to the bizarre and unbelievable in a world where the impossible had become commonplace.

Most religiously oriented persons of any faith would have considered the entire event an abomination, or the work of the Devil, were they to learn of it, but in the hearts and minds of the inner circle of The Home for Wayward Souls, it was a well-received serendipity.

And so it was, that this group who did not believe in a disapproving, punitive, vindictive and jealous God the Creator (either Aravat or Eloah, Elah or Eolith in Hebrew) nonetheless learned to embrace a union with what has been referred to as the Guf; the Treasury or Well of Souls without conflict or contradiction, and who believed in the persistence of the Soul

And it was good…very, VERY GOOD…like, well…(you know the rest)…..

Namaste

The Final Chapter?…You be the Judge….

(Show extreme close-up of the eye of Raul, the Talking Cuban Tree-Frog. As the camera zooms out he begins his narration for Intergalactic Geographic while clinging to a branch outside the Sanctuary.)

“Despite the end of the siege, the courtroom drama, and the assassination of Frederick, life in the Home for Wayward Souls continues at the same breath-taking pace that has become de rigueur for longer than anybody can seem to remember. And it seems as if they wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Everyone is so closely connected to everyone else within the community that without introducing any of their own drama, there is more than ample mutual stimulation, validation and support which enables its members to exist within a sort of well (or treasury) of souls, springing from the ‘world soul’…the Guf…so that each of its members remains self-sustaining, vibrantly alive and purposeful.”

“Because the Chimps and the Bonobos no longer needed to be separated, the interactions between the two tribes were beginning to take on a decidedly personal aspect as numerous cross-species romantic relationships are blossoming within the compound.”

“The influences of both Frederick and The Knowledge had been considerable, and there was no real competition for either food or territory. They had become united by way of a common enemy, and learned co-operation by virtue of common cause”

“And just as surely as the smaller female Bonobos found the masculine allure of the larger and more dominant male Chimps quite irresistible, as the saying goes ‘For every pot, there’s a lid’ and there are plenty of females everywhere in this world, as well as several others with an appetite for domination of submissive males, accounting for numerous female Chimps courting the smaller male Bonobos.”

“Of course, there was no guarantee that any of the Chimp/Bonobo matings would result in the genetic mutations that Frederick experienced, including the doubling of the SRGAP2 gene induced by The Knowledge, or Frederick’s genetic DNA resemblance to Millennium Man (Orrorin tugenensis) and Homo habilis, thereby resolving the resolution of the disparity between the 24 genes of Chimps and Bonobos and the 23 genes of Man.”

“Although the separate 2a and 2b genes of the Pan primates eventually consolidated into the single Human gene 2 configuration (thereby accounting for the apparent ‘extra’ gene of the Pan primates), there was no guarantee that any of the hybrids that were later to be born would be compatible with future Human additions to their gene pool, should they even occur. Indeed, Frederick may have been a genetic anomaly. Similar future mutations might not occur again for an indeterminate length of time.”

“And Evolutionary Time is very unpredictable. A Quantum Leap can occur in one generation, but it may not be self-replicating, and it might take hundreds, even thousands of generations for that leap to take place, and incremental evolution as a result of natural selection and environmental demands is notoriously slow.”

“But of course, the twins might well represent the future ‘Mitochondrial Adam and Eve’ of a new race of sentient, self-aware, and increasingly intelligent Hominid primates capable of mating with either Humans or Chimps and Bonobos, possibly resulting in future pairings between ‘proto-humans’ and ‘proto-chimps’ much as early Man did.”

“Since it would be ill-advised to mate siblings, there would be a necessity that some new genes be introduced. Even if the twins only mated with Chimps and Bonobos, their gene pool will never be the same again.”

“But given the extraordinary beauty of both of them, there was a very good possibility that future human donations would also result, possibly from other members of the inner circle, or even artificial insemination. If so, the next Great Leap Forward would be inevitable.”

“Merle currently possesses enough of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to support a congregation of five hundred thousand for over five hundred years on a very regular basis (…just in case…”), although its existence would remain a closely guarded secret, at least for the time being.”

“Although he had voluntarily resigned from his research consultant’s job with Merrick and PharmaCorp when he first began his participation in the trial to avoid the immanent dismissal that Mark, Darcy and Charles had experienced allegedly ‘due to business needs,’ if need be, he could work for any other manufacturer he chose, or manufacture it clandestinely on the premises”

“There was no longer any financial necessity that any of them take employment with anyone else. They were not just rich…they had become wealthy…or rather, their non-profit incorporation had amassed so much money that their accountants and attorneys were on full-time retainer just to find ways to spend the money on their chartered pursuits of higher consciousness and polyamory.”

“It was they in fact who were now providing employment to selected individuals who were recruited by invitation only, thereby helping to insure that they remained connected to people of like mind and spirit.” 

“And there was no shortage of work for their selected causes to give everyone an outlet and a connection.” 

“To this end, they were also beginning a screening process to determine the suitability of selected candidates to receive ‘enlightenment’, although they were just as hesitant to obtain their informed consent to take The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as they were to administer it without their knowledge.”

“Because of the legal implications, secrecy was an absolute must. They fully anticipated to be infiltrated by the FBI, DEA. or even the CIA and NSA. Although Stan would be immensely valuable in helping spot infiltrators and CI’s, even the remote possibility of a disgruntled parishioner reporting the mere existence of The Knowledge would be disastrous.”

“Indiscriminate administration of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil might not result in the spiritual evolution of all of Mankind, given Man’s inestimable capacity to pervert and subvert even the noblest, loftiest and most benign of ideals or goals.”

“The fact that the DOD spent millions of dollars trying to turn the Frisbee into a weapon would be a good example. Also, ‘Knowledge is power’ and ‘all power corrupts’….”

“Also it is doubtful that any of the present standing governments of the world would desire a self-realized, self-actualized and enlightened population that would be able to see beyond the devious ploys so commonly used to manipulate the general public, except for perhaps the Dutch and some provinces of Canada.”

“They all realized that they stood on the brink of a new existence, and that the likelihood of oppression from an almost endless list of potential enemies would be great unless tremendous discretion was exercised by all parties, even with Stanley Linderman protecting their best interests and continued safety.”

“Merrick Pharmaceuticals, the parent company of PharmaCorp eventually announced that they would no longer be using Chimps or Bonobos for medical research. After extensive isolation and testing for disease or genetic damage, they were retired and donated to The Home for Wayward Souls.”

”Although they had been offered a substantial ‘ransom’ for their release by Ash’s attorneys, PharmaCorp decided their public image in the press would be better if the primates were donated.”

“Shortly after that, public outrage over the excesses of PharmaCorp’s business practices acting as program administrators for the vast majority of insurers resulted in sweeping legislative reforms designed to prevent them from extorting and victimizing the public by denying claims, unfair regulation and monopolization of trade, providing sub-standard foreign-produced generic versions of medications of questionable therapeutic value, and collusion between PharmaCorp, the Pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurance companies.”

“Huge fines and lawsuits for damages as well as jail time for numerous executives resulted. Simultaneous actions taken by federal, as well as state’s Attorneys General triggered a bloodbath not seen since Mark Anthony first stuck it to Julius Caesar, and once it started, it seemed that the line would never end.”

“Much like the prosecution of organized crime, once one of them rolled over and turned state’s evidence against the company, the domino effect ensured that there would be no place to hide, and even the most top-ranking executives would not be able to pay off their accusers.”

“THFWS as part of their chartered missions, began to initiate research to promote the recognition of Repetitive Thought Injury by the medical and scientific communities, as a legitimate injury syndrome, as well as other inhumane practices in the workplace in general and telemarketers in particular.”

“The logic was that if they could get it recognized as an injury, then if insurance companies had to start paying claims, they would pressure the employers to provide working conditions not to be considered as primary causative agents.” 

“Not surprisingly, the effect on the economy was a significant decrease in health-care costs nationwide as major medical insurance administrators followed the lead forcibly set in place for the pharmaceutical industry.”

“Since the huge windfall profits of the administrative companies went largely to executives and stockholders who did little to stimulate the economy except by conspicuous consumption, (which never does much of anything to benefit the general population) the  public had more disposable income to spend on items that resulted in more jobs in other industries, as well as the perception of an improved quality of life.”

“And since the wages paid by PharmaCorp represented just about the minimum wage that any reasonably literate professional would accept, and as there was no need for massive lay-offs because once the company was forced to operate on an ethical basis, the enrollments dramatically increased along with the public trust.”

“This was because even more agents were needed to act as patient care advocates in customer services.”

“Mark and Darcy took on the daunting task of educating all the primates within the congregation. Since they were all computer-literate on a limited scale, it would also give them ample opportunities to conduct behavioral research on their learning, perception and behavior as well as the developmental advances of Adam and Eve (the unanimous choice for the names of the twins).”

“Because of the necessity of supporting the burgeoning telephone call center related to the television, video and internet interests of THFWS and Kali’s website as well as the recordings of the ArcAngels there were plenty of opportunities at better salaries with better working conditions for ex-pat employees of PharmaCorp’s marketing division, which was eventually closed down in South Florida.”

“Even more surprisingly, a few of the Bonobos agreed to work as call screeners at the Sanctuary on an entirely voluntary basis to help advance behavioral research but it was understood and agreed that there would be ABSOLUTELY NO TELEMARKETING PRACTICES ALLOWED.”

“So many questions are yet to be answered, and so many situations unresolved, that there can be little doubt that this is far from the end of this saga, but for now, we close this chapter until news of further developments present themselves.”

“Until then, this is Raul, your reporter for Intergalactic Geographic. So long until we meet again.”

The Home for Wayward Souls and the Talking Monkeys © 2013-2020 

Namaste,

Chazz Vincen

The Final Chapter?…You be the Judge…. 276

The Talking Monkeys

“Hello. My name is Frederick. This is not just my story, because so many others were involved in the telling of my story, as well as many others’. What happened to all of us was different for each of us in many ways, but as you will see the common thread connecting each of us to all of us has a backbone, as well as a central nervous system, that developed as a common consciousness, the more that we realized our common interests.”

“Also, my portion of the story could not have been told without the assistance of Mark, my handler. I was a second-generation hybrid research Chimpanzee. It was Mark who taught me American Sign Language (ASL) officially, at least. Mark was the first to notice that both my parents had begun to teach me ASL before the lab really started to consider me as a primary test subject. Prior to that point, I represented little more than an anecdotal reference to the union of Malkira and Lilith, my parents.”

“Malkira was a member of the tribe Pan Troglodytes, more commonly known as the Common Chimp, while Lilith was of the Pan Paniscus Tribe, and a Bonobo. My father’s families came from north of the Congo River, and my mother’s relatives habituated the south side of the Congo. The Congo is a wide and dangerous river, and chimps are not especially good swimmers. This is probably for the best, since the two tribes are not especially compatible, due to vast differences in both culture and temperament.”

“I am not aware of any other matings of Chimps and Bonobos. The semi-captivity of the preserve upon which we live had provided much less formidable barriers than the Congo, but neither tribe seem to be especially interested in the other, since food was always plentiful and the habitats we large enough to allow a good deal of wandering without anyone encroaching upon anyone else’s territory.”

“At one point, both Malkira and Lilith were both placed in the Veterinary Unit for annual exams, lab tests, and inoculations, which involved an overnight observation and stay in the unit. Although they were placed several cages away from each other, both were fascinated by how much they looked like each other, only different.”

“Also, virtually all the Chimps were familiar with each other, as were the bonobos with other members of their tribe. Malkira put on a very impressive display of dominant alpha-male behaviors, some of which were quite intimidating and ferocious and very much unlike the more passive posturings of the male bonobos. Lilith found it all very sexy.”

”In a female-dominated society like the bonobo, Lilith knew of no previous experiences to compare to what she was witnessing.”

“The more advanced the species, the less likely it is that sexual behaviors are to be controlled exclusively by hormone levels. On the Chimpanzee and Bonobo level, playfulness and curiosity are additional pleasurable avenues that account for a great deal of their sexual experiences. Although Man separates procreation from sexuality and will copulate without regard for hormonal levels and may even take measures to prevent impregnation, the chimps and bonobos did not originally recognize the link between sexual congress and reproduction, and simply enjoyed it because it felt good and they liked it anytime they pleased. “

“Other animals may rut out of hormonally-driven instincts to replenish the species, but we primates like to fuck for fun, and Lilith thought Malkira might be a lot of fun as she noticed certain parts of her monkey-fur were getting very wet.”

“The next day, both of them were returned to their respective habitats forever changed by their encounter. Lilith now found the company of the male bonobos to be about as stimulating as a luncheon with a convention of hairstylists, interior decorators and shoe salesmen. She found herself imagining Malkira chasing off her other suitors, roaring and brawling with all who were too foolish or imprudent enough to not be intimidated by his menacing fury, before he snatched her up and carried her off, already a prisoner of her own desires as well as his. She found herself becoming irritable and impatient with everything.”

“Lilith was not the only primate affected by their encounter. Malkira now regarded even the most comely and nubile Troglodytes as short, fat humorless and overbearing. Lilith, by contrast was tall, slender and almost disarmingly youthful in appearance, and seemed to possess an airy grace in her playful antics. Also, Lilith smelled differently than all the other female chimps he had ever known. It strangely resembled the musk of some of the female handlers he had noticed, and it mesmerized him.”

“The two habitats conjoined each other at only one narrow portion of the preserve, separated by high cliffs and a very steep waterfall.”

“Malkira stood one day on a prominent rock beside the waterfall high above the basin below. It was his favorite place to go at dusk to watch the sunset. On particularly beautiful occasions, he was often inspired to celebrate the joy he felt welling up inside him by dancing as the last rays of the day faded into twilight.”

“Humans call this phenomenon ‘The Rain Dance.’ It is a spontaneous expression of joyful inspiration shared by all Chimpanzees.”

“As he stood there, drinking in the experience, a familiar scent wafted up from the basin to his nostrils…could it be? Suddenly Lilith’s countenance flashed before him…but what is different?…Something earthy and fertile…Estrus!”

“As Malkira searched the basin below him, he suddenly caught site of Lilith, who was looking upward laughing as she watched him dancing. She finally caught her breath and sighed deeply…who was he? From where had he come? Where does he go? Why is he dancing?”

(She could not see the sunset, which was obscured from her vantage point.)

“It was about that time that Malkira jumped. Lilith screamed. It was not a graceful Tarzan-style swan dive. He simply leaped out into space like a being acting on pure foolish impulse without any regard for consequences…what a coincidence. A Monkey-jump, feet first, arms flailing in pure futility.”

“Fortunately for Malkira, he landed in the deepest part of the pool basin. Except Malkira hated water, even worse than most chimps, probably because he could barely swim, even if his life depended on it, which it now did. Such is Love and infatuation. And then his head went below the water.”

“Fortunately, Lilith reached Malkira just in time to grab a thin shock of his hair, as she swam back to shore. His head stayed under the water most of the way, but after a short episode of violent coughing, retching and vomiting he was jubilantly screaming, and waving his hands above his head as he rolled head over heels, almost falling back into the water.”

“Lilith quickly joined him in his triumphant dance just long enough to be roughly bent over and mounted forcefully and exquisitely in a manner wholly oblivious of tenderness, forethought, or foreplay. It was a savagely beautiful and erotic moment, and as they lay on the edge of the shore, a sigh passed between them.”

“It didn’t take more than a few hours for the handlers to locate Malkira and Lilith, but no one could explain the ferocity with which both of them resisted being separated.”

“For several days, they both refused to eat, but once it was discovered that Lilith was pregnant it made about as much sense as could be expected, especially since this had never happened before.”

“This was how my parents met, and how I was conceived. It was told to me many times by both my parents, both jointly and individually. The emphasis or attention to various details would change slightly depending on who was telling it, or what had prompted the retelling, but it was always a grand, heroic tale of Love against all odds.”

“Although the Preserve was originally built as a Florida tourist attraction that featured a wide variety of wild African animals in a natural habitat that closely resembled the savannas of Africa, unmanageable operating costs and a fizzled economy forced the owners to seek additional financial backing, which came from a research corporation interested in Primate behaviors, learning, cognition and language abilities.”

“The research corporation was not interested in the other African animals, which were sold to various zoos or similar institutions. A great deal of construction went on during my youth, because the researchers required a great deal of new laboratory space to conduct their experiments under controlled conditions despite the fact that the animals were allowed to live and maintain family units within the marginally captive conditions of their natural habitat. The idea was to be able to compare and contrast the effects of their research and the learning experiences of the primates to a known baseline of behaviors.”

“At the risk of sounding like some stuffy old pedant who is overly sensitive to incorrect usage of some “buzz word”, I am nonetheless compelled to point out that Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos are not really “Monkeys” at all, and are more correctly referred to as Great Apes. There is however, a common tendency to refer to all primates as “Monkeys”…well, considering that most humans also refer to all people of Asian descent as “Chinese” and seem incapable of distinguishing subtle genetic traits within their own species, it is really more of a moot point than a source of insult.”

“By the way, you might be surprised to know that most primates find Humans to be just as zany, wacky, and foolishly hilarious as Humans find us…except when you are being cruel, sadistic, greedy, rapacious or dangerous…which unfortunately, is most of the time for Humans in their ‘natural state’.”

“Some Humans might claim that lower Primates are not sufficiently evolved to have developed those characteristics…I suppose it depends on your definition of evolution. Humans say things like “Monkey see, Monkey do” and don’t even consider the possibility that we mock you when we put on clothes, wear glasses and hats, or smoke cigarettes…(the roller skating is pretty cool, all things taken on balance).”

“Evolution is a slippery slope at best…too much of what is commonly regarded as ‘intelligence’ has made Man lazy, unfit, amorphously fearful, neurotic, sexually repressed, arrogant and complacent.”

“Humans for instance, have become so obsessed with their spoken and written linguistic abilities that they have almost completely lost touch with their former telepathic abilities…something that almost all animals possess to some extent. The Great Apes are so adept at this that Man’s dependency on words to communicate seems pathetic. As Mark taught me ASL, I began to try to teach Mark how to communicate without opening his mouth.”

Call Me Mark

“Thus far, what you have been reading has been the joint results of both Frederick and myself trying to communicate with each other, as well as to you. I began sanctioned lessons in American sign Language for Frederick shortly after observing that both his parents were already starting to teach it to him on their own.”

“I am not aware of other Bonobo/Chimp matings, but Frederick is definitely a product of both his parents. I have come to regard him as an evolutionary quantum leap in primate development, cognition, and intelligence.”

“As you will come to see, Frederick’s observations and insights on Human primates are refreshingly devoid of reverence for our preconceived notions, arrogance, or hypocrisies.”

“I am Mark, an instructor in American Sign Language. My Master’s studies centered mostly around linguistics and primate behavior. I started working at the Sanctuary shortly after they commenced operations, about two years before Frederick was born.”

“Curiously, although Lilith was one of my best and brightest subjects, Malkira seemed to lack either the inclination or motivation to show much enthusiasm for signing. Malkira had high alpha-male status among the other chimps and was well-liked by everyone, including the handlers. He was a very large specimen within his breed, surprisingly strong and agile and quite bright. There was not a female chimp that would have spurned his amorous advances.”

“Within his world, he already got about everything he wanted, almost effortlessly. In Malkira’s world, he was the mountain, and even Mohammad would have to come to him. He did not have much need for accolades, or recognition, or much of anything else he didn’t already have. Privilege often begets complacency.”

“Were Malkira the least interested in politics, he would have been a Republican, but not for long, as Lilith, who was almost his antithesis in outlook and demeanor held a unique influence on his behaviors.”

“Lilith was forever the blithe spirit, a hippie of sorts who heard her own drums, and seemed to never stop dancing as she scampered hither and yon, cavorting and frolicking as she pleased, but because she did it with such finesse and charm, she always made the highest marks and achieved the most progress, usually in the shortest time, although she usually had so much fun playing around the subject or test, that the actual finish seemed almost an afterthought.”

“She was often playfully argumentative in a way that often belied more intelligence than we have been comfortable attributing to primates, even bargaining over rewards or breaks. How do you discuss Lilith’s abilities to think outside the box to a community disinclined to recognize that she could think in the first place?”

“There were no recorded matings of Chimps and Bonobos prior to Malkira and Lilith. Chimpanzees (Pan troglidytes) and Bonobos (Pan Paniscus) have developed a hierarchy of patterns of socialization that are mutually exclusive of each other.”

“Chimps  (a member of the Great Apes) are more likely to kill not only monkeys for food, but even each other, and are markedly territorial, utilizing roaming gangs of males who will patrol the borders of their territory, sometimes killing intruders.”

“Chimps are patriarchal, whereas Bonobos are matriarchal. Bonobos are noted for using sex as a bargaining strategy, and are polyamorous, in sharp contrast to the monogamous behaviors and socialization of the Chimps.”

“Without the protective isolation afforded the Bonobos by the Congo River, it would be difficult to imagine a safe or intact outcome at the hands of the more aggressive and violent of the two tribes.”

“After a great deal of debate about the proper environment for Malkira, Lilith, and eventually Frederick, it was decided to provide them an isolated environment that afforded them protection from either the Chimps, or even the Bonobos, as well as maintaining the integrity of the other two cultures.”

“After only minimal modifications, a long-abandoned monkey house provided them a tranquil, safe, and beautiful habitat sufficiently removed from the other clans in which they could pursue and develop a hybrid world of their own making.”

“We held our breath for months as this bare nuclear family so accustomed to the same type of extended family dynamics as we have seen in Mankind, disappear in Western human culture within the last sixty years develop their own unique family dynamic in the absence of the peer pressure of either tribe.”

“It was about this time that Darcy came to work as a handler, and she proved to be a great fit to work with Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick. As she was new to both the Habitat and the Sanctuary, she would not conjure up memories of either tribe’s handlers, or their previous habitats. As I think back about it, I believe I had written in my notes somewhere that Darcy slightly reminded me of a Bonobo alpha female.”

“Her face was almost unnaturally juvenile in appearance, much the same way that mature Bonobos often resemble adolescent Chimps. Her eyes were bright, very large, and full of mischief. She was very tall despite the fact that her features were quite petite, and that gave her a sort of thin, lanky look to her without seeming gawky or awkward. In fact, she had a very fluid grace in her movements much like those of Lilith, and both females bonded almost immediately.”

“Also, Frederick latched onto Darcy in a way that was quite heartwarming to observe. Both tribes of primates practice joint parenting by females, and Darcy was the perfect ‘Aunt.’ Darcy was not only single, but she had never been married before, and the way that Frederick had adopted Darcy really played a couple of high, soulful French Horn solos on her Fallopian Tubes.”

“He had developed a habit of holding her chin close to his face, so he could stare deeply into her eyes for disarmingly long periods of time, which she freely accommodated, and sometimes even encouraged. She said she thought Frederick was trying to communicate non-verbally, and after they finished a few minutes together, both would get this dreamy star-struck beatific smile…their eyes even smiled. It was a thing of strange beauty to observe.”

“Because I spent so much attention and time teaching and observing Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick’s behaviors and amazing progress, Darcy and I were in close contact for many hours each week. Management was “quietly” interested in the project, and it soon became apparent that we were tacitly being given the “green light” and everyone within the Habitat couldn’t give enough help and support.”

“The five of us had become quiet rockstars within our tiny milieu. I was the only one who had full access to the entire Habitat and I couldn’t help noticing the hushed, almost reverent way that the project was discussed without actually speaking directly about it….”

“The longer Darcy and I worked together, the closer we became. She had a down-to-earth humor and was very bright, and quick-witted, and just well-enough educated to appreciate my off-beat Zany Zen Wisdom, but not pedantic enough to feel compelled to draw attention to its flaws, or debunk me as some sort of fallen, charlatan Shaman.”

“We made each other laugh sometimes so hard we would cry. She had a graceful knack for physical comedy and mimicry that bordered on genius. One day when a state inspector came to the facility, she managed to follow him into the building right to my office, mimicking his every move, nuance, and gesture, rolling of eyes, sighs, tossing of hair, or every other quirk this poor schnook exhibited with the almost imperceptible air of exaggeration so as to parody this self-impressed petty bureaucrat right under his very own nose, without him so much as suspecting he was being lampooned.”

“She loved the million-dollar words I used….”

“She taught me to dance a wild provocatively improvisational series of movements she called The Bandaloop, (or something like that). She said if you ever learned to do it exactly right, you would learn how to live forever…It was vaguely reminiscent of the Chimps’ Rain Dance, but every time I ever saw her do it, every ape in sight copied her in perfect unison like a bunch of Simian Rockettes.”

“Our schedules, including Darcy’s graduate classes left little time for romantic pursuits, despite the fact that we openly discussed our mutual infatuations as the sexual tension grew between us. Months passed as we even discussed every sort of quirk, fetish, perversion or passion that humans are wont to perform, as well as our own personal experiences and preferences, or even hilarious failures during odd moments when we were alone.”

“We even developed a shorthand way of alluding to some practices, including those of the Primates who were our leagues. A slightly lingering kiss, an inadvertent touch, a look of longing were hard to ignore, but with cameras in every imaginable corner of the Habitat, as well as the Sanctuary our self-proclaimed Imaginary Romance remained forestalled for so long by the seemingly most insignificant reasons that both of us began to wonder if maybe the other wasn’t just being polite (even if one or the other of us had been gay, it wouldn’t have stopped us, so strong was the chemistry of our Crush…we had even jokingly discussed…What If? in a half dozen different scenarios that expounded upon our mutual curiosities.)”

“Darcy was living with a guy named Hank when she came to work at the Habitat. From the way she talked, it was not exactly a match made in Heaven, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea to get physically involved no matter how fascinated or curious we were about each other.”

“I sensed a disappointment in her that I did not invite her to my apartment several times when we had opportunities to “explore our mutual fascination, but my apartment was way across the other side of town out in the country and took almost an hour to get there, and I really have an aversion to cheating.”

“I realize that it is often so difficult to set up yourself in single living accommodations, that  many of us tend to jump from one frying pan to another, but I don’t like the dishonesty. I was in no hurry, no matter how much we desired each other. Besides, the anticipation was amplifying our desires so much that my only reservation was that I hoped the reality of our actual encounter would not be a letdown. Several years passed in the process, yet I still wondered, ‘what if?’…”

“It would only be a matter of time to find out, once Hank and Darcy blew up. It all happened a little sooner than I expected, all things considered.”

“One weekend we managed to get the same two days off in a row. Our Crush had endured so long that we had saved enough money to go to Captiva. (I don’t do Sanibel Island anymore…for reasons I may or may not explain later….), which is a Mighty Reckless Move in the Name of Romance for two people hadn’t even gotten naked together…yet.”

“As much as I would love to go into details (…and Darcy isn’t shy either), THAT is a story that could run this tale right off the rails on its own right; suffice it to say it would have been called something like Fifty Shades of (Tequila) Sunrise. We got an apartment a week later (…in truth, Darcy’s new digs were perfect for us, so I moved in with her.)”

“When we got back from Captiva, Malkira, Lilith, and Frederick did a Rain Dance in our honor, which evolved into one of Darcy’s Bandaloop Dances. Never underestimate the power of simian nostrils to tell who just got their dance ticket filled….”

“One day, Darcy, almost out of nowhere said: “Darlin’ I’ve been around the block so many times they named one of the back alleys after me… She sighed……You sure you’re ready for the likes of me? I never did anything to outright hurt anybody in my life, but sometimes…well I’ve been known to ‘jump the fence’ so to speak, more than a few times…It won’t matter how much I love you…in fact, the more I love you, the sooner it will likely be to happen, ’cause I foolishly want to believe that somewhere out there is someone just as hungry and romantic as me that isn’t afraid, ashamed, embarrassed or guilt-ridden about their Deepest Secret Fantasies because they understand.”

“I may be cursed with romanticism by the Imp of the Perverse for believing that for every pot, there’s a lid, or that both of us can encourage each other to feel, and to live like there’s no tomorrow all the while acting like we’re never going to die.”

“Don’t get me wrong, the first time you are inclined to want to ‘explore’ elsewhere, I may feel a great big lump in my throat, or you may notice a slight catch in my voice, or the start of a tear in the corner of my eye…it’s not because I don’t CARE, because right then and there, I will feel just how much I care in ways I didn’t even know the day before…and I really want you to know just how much I want you to be the one that uses the option first…It’s just that I don’t MIND the way most people do, and I’d rather set the example for the way I hope you take it when it’s my turn…and eventually it will be…and oh yeah…I will always come back as long as you want me.”

“”I still remember the way the sun shone through the window onto her face, and the way the air in the room smelled, the song that was playing in my head before she started to speak, even what I ate for breakfast that morning.”

“As I closed my eyes for a moment before I spoke, I saw an Angel descending toward me wearing the most beatific expression I had ever seen. Heaven had opened, and the radiance and the music that flowed down on me swept away every single shred of fear or insecurity or inadequacy or guilt or shame I had ever known. I had become very careful about what I had wished for all my life prior to that moment, and I finally got it.”

Darcy Sallye

“Well, as Mick Jagger would say, ‘Please Allow Me to Introduce myself…’ I am not much on formalities, and I don’t like to try to put on airs or pretend to be someone or something I’m not. You don’t need Sherlock Holmes to figure out my intentions, but either Sigmund Freud or maybe Federico Fellini would probably be better qualified to explain how I roll, although I am very straightforward if not the least bit straight laced.”

“When my Daddy came to this country, our name was Salle (pronounced Sal-yay), which everybody called Sal, so he changed it to Sallye because it was easier to change it once than it was to keep explaining.”

“That was long before I was even a dirty look in my Mamma’s eye, so he never imagined I would grow up almost six feet tall, or that my friends would nickname me “Long Tall Sally”. I blossomed at an early age, so of course I started dating boys a lot older than me…I grew up quick.”

“The boys my age were gross little sex maniacs…the older boys just learned to refine their act a bit, but it seemed like the boys who liked me were the Dirty Boys…I guess when I was really young they thought I would be easy…(and they were right), but by the time I met Mark, they were just a bad habit.”

“Mark was a lot older than either me, or even most of my dirty boys, and he reminded me of a well-bred Southern Gentleman. I was living with Hank when I came to work for the Habitat, so the way Mark treated me with what he called deference curiously contrasted the way I felt when he would compliment me, especially if it acknowledged my womanhood in some way…he always made it sound like a respectful compliment, and as unused to that as I had become, well it just swept me off my feet…even though I figured I would have to make the first move, so I waited until Hank and I split up, but when I got an apartment for myself, I made sure it was big enough for two independent souls, and a lot closer to work than Mark’s place….”

“This was completely new ground for me…I had come to regard most men as a sort of necessary evil…I once said that to me, the ideal man would be one that could fuck me senseless for five hours and then turn into a deep-dish supreme pizza and a pitcher of margaritas…can you say Black Widow?” 

“Mark made me wish I could roll him up and carry him around in my vagina like a kangaroo.”

Lilith

As it turned out, because of Malkira’s large size within Chimp norms, and Lilith’s petite Bonobo pelvic girdle, it was very difficult to carry Frederick, and halfway through the pregnancy, she could barely stand up, let alone walk. A neonatal unit was set up and ready on a moment’s notice.

Imagine a Bonobo on bedrest. Just try…an imaginary construct is about as close to bedrest as we ever got with the likes of Lilith, at least at first, but then she got spoiled very quickly, once she recognized that if she wanted for anything, all she had to do was to start to make an effort to get up, and either Darcy, or the full-time neonatologist, or her nurse would attend to her needs. Lilith’s proficiency with sign language skyrocketed during her pregnancy, it should be noted.

Long before active labor began, it was agreed by the medical team that attended Lilith (and Frederick) that the delivery would be a scheduled C-section with general anesthesia. It was also agreed that for Lilith’s sake, her tubes would be tied after delivery before they closed the case. As it was, she barely survived, and was in recovery for nearly a month.

As a result, Frederick was to be Malkira and Lilith’s only offspring. Management was clearly interested in not only Frederick, but in his parent’s abilities to socialize him…which is interesting enough on a purely scientific level, but gave pause to some in the organization to speculate as to the…well, let’s just say long-range projections concerning the possible fiduciary implications vis-à-vis Potential Non-Linear Inotropic Financial Gains regarding Return On Investment.

It was also decided that neither Malkira nor Lilith would be made aware of management’s decision regarding Lilith’s reproductive capabilities…there are some things that can easily be told, that may be impossible to understand…On the lighter side, it should be noted that Malkira and Lilith enjoyed an amazing sex life (most of which we recorded, and would watch, from time to time….) that perfectly balanced their nurturance and hybrid socialization paradigms…(think about it…for the first time, these two Great Apes would be negotiating parenting styles like a pair of suburban humans).

A slight Aside Regarding Frederick

It is occasionally possible for two similar species of the same genus to reproduce, but the resultant offspring are often sterile, and unable to reproduce. What so intrigued Management about Frederick’s DNA was not only that the hybridization that had resulted was in fact capable of self-replication, but his closest genetic match was Homo Erectus, rather than either Pan Paniscus or Pan Troglidytes.

The Great Divide between Man and Ape had finally been crossed i(again) in one Quantum Leap, rather than a series of tiny incremental baby steps. Although both possibilities were anticipated by Darwin, the more prevalent interpretation of Natural Selection tends to overlook the potential for a Quantum Leap occurring at any moment.

This was Frederick’s Moment, even if he had no idea as to his momentous implications. 

Frederick was special, even before he was born, so he had no frame of reference to compare his life from anyone else’s except his parents, like offspring of Aristocrats secluded from the public eye and the tabloids.

Management was keeping their cards so close to their chest that despite the huge importance of their discovery about their progeny, nothing was publicized. Not a single word was printed or released, even among scientific circles, and all participating researchers, handlers, and contractors were forced to sign reams of confidentiality agreements associated with their contracts and terms of employment that were every bit as effective as a judicial gag order with no public knowledge whatsoever.

The extremely generous compensation packages afforded anyone even remotely associated with the project helped assure that no one questioned the decidedly menacingly draconian language of the confidentiality agreements.

The Home for Wayward Souls

The Fringe

“I realize that I may not be speaking for everybody on this issue, but most of my life has not been spent in the lap of Luxury, spoiled by social and financial privilege among The Beautiful People.”

“My Gramma used to say that water seeks its own level. I always found the coolest treasures at Low Tide. The Stuff that got left Behind. Castaways, Castoffs, The Broken, The Orphaned, The Dropped and The Lost. Stragglers who missed the Warning Bell. They called out to me. They knew me by my name, and I knew them by sight.”

“Hi, my name is Darcy and I am a Lost Soul.”

“Hello Darcy”

The group droned in a mocking parody of All Twelve-Step Program introductions before breaking into raucous laughter. She had stood up suddenly in front of the backlit waterfall that had been constructed inside a sort of grotto of Banyan trees that had formed the canopy that shielded it from the sky and sun on even the brightest days.

It was an impromptu audience of maybe six people or so that happened to be in the general area at the time, yet they seemed to chime in as if on cue, or perhaps it was a pre-determined straight line to set up their chorale if and when such a remark presented the opportunity…a comedic wave, if you will. 

They were visibly and audibly self-impressed by the success of this…shtick they had jointly constructed, and it was very obvious that humor was held in the highest regard within this camp. She grinned a sideways banana-eaters’ display of dental hygiene at its best as she shook her head wildly, throwing her long, straight blonde hair in every direction.

It had been six years since she had come to Florida, and this was the first place she had been since she got there that even remotely interested her on this level. It was good to shake off the stuffy airs of pretentiousness that surround most professional research facilities.

They usually failed to effectively account for the ubiquitous wild cards that often gravitate to scientific research in the first place. Next she shook her entire body like a Cuban Merengue dancer, arms and legs wide apart, as if to embrace the world.

At least for a moment, she had found a niche. And if that niche just happened to be a deck full of wild cards she was a whole deck of Queens of Hearts.

“…no offense, but that’s also pretty much the way I find most of my friends….” (To No One in Particular.)

“…and none taken, Darcy. In fact, that is usually the way most of my Parishioners find me. My name is Ashtar. Welcome to the Home for Wayward Souls. My friends call me Ash.”

He had approached her from behind, silently as she spun around at the sound of his voice. He extended his right hand to Darcy, which she grabbed with her left hand as she placed it on her left hip while she grasped his left hip with her right hand, pulling him to her so she could whisper in his ear.

“I’ve heard so much about you from Mark…I will most certainly call you Ash then, as I know we are going to be really good friends.” 

Darcy was on a roll, cocked and locked and ready to rock. Everything about this place exhilarated her, body, mind and soul alike.

With that, she nuzzled his earlobe gently as Ash tried to discern if she really had dragged her tongue across it as she spoke.

Ash blushed slightly as their eyes met, but Darcy just smiled like a Cheshire cat, knowingly, yet ever so enigmatically.

Like perfume on a light summer breeze, Kali encircled Ash and Darcy with a touch as light as a languid, caressing tickle. She was of average height, full-figured, fair of skin and dark of hair and eyes. She focused her attention on Darcy with wide, knowing eyes so affectionate and engaging that Darcy shivered slightly as if her optic nerve had suddenly been short-circuited to her clitoris.

“Mark has spoken so highly of you that I couldn’t wait to meet you. In fact, I planned to visit the Sanctuary on Monday just to find out more about the woman who has captivated our Mark.”

Kali winked at Darcy so slowly and affectionately that Darcy felt as if she was being willingly hypnotized…and seduced. It was a feeling she embraced like a child stepping into the van of a familiar stranger with candy.

“Where ever are my manners? Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Kali and I am just so glad to meet you. Our home is also our retreat…in days long gone, we would have called it our Church, but it has been Ash’s experience that some words are so likely to be misunderstood that they are best not used at all, just to avoid confusion and too many apologies or explanations…the accommodations are not lavish, but you are welcome to come anytime and stay as late or long as you wish. Please feel free to help yourself to whatever pleases you. There is plenty to eat or drink and no shortage of every sort of companionship, conversation, or entertainment you desire…and if you don’t see it don’t hesitate to ask…you may be surprised.”

“Oh yes and one more thing…speaking of labels…some of us may be married to others of us, but we all are also nonetheless co-conspirators of common mind and interests in pursuit of Polyamory. Here there is no need to hold back your impulses, desires, or your heart. Sometimes I come on too strong for some people, but I have learned to trust my instincts…so know that you are among friends, because I want us to be the very best of friends.”

As Kali spoke, it was like listening to the purring of a large feral cat. Her expressions were beguiling, and her movements choreographed by Salome. She held out her arms to embrace Darcy, gliding forward until their bodies touched as Kali flipped her head to the side, simultaneously tossing her hair away from her face and placing her mouth over Darcy’s.

Her lips were full and moist and parted so slightly as her tongue lightly darted out to part them. Darcy lifted her hand to caress Kali’s face. They lingered for a moment as knowing looks were exchanged, and just as suddenly as she had appeared, she was gone, floating away to mingle with the others, leaving Darcy standing next to Ash, her mouth slightly agape, as a slight smile blossomed into a wide grin, her arms hanging by her side. Her face and neck were flushed and she suddenly realized how wet she had become.

Ash smiled and winked at her.

“And that, my dear was Kali. I know her well enough to venture that she is quite fascinated with you, and if my instincts are right, it is mutual. Mark and I are like brothers who share everything together. I would be remiss not to mention that I can see why he is so attracted to you, or that I share your desire that we should be the very best of friends. I applaud your choice of words, by the way…it is an expression that has become something of a term of art here…The Very Best of Friends…Kali could not have heard you, and if she had, would not intend to mock you. It is an expression whose definition you will find, becomes more limitless by the day.”

By the time that Darcy saw Mark again, he was talking with Merle, a pharmacist who worked for PharmaCorp, the parent company that had most recently acquired The Habitat and turned it into a primate research facility. Frederick was gingerly approaching Merle from the safety of Mark’s lap, only to turn and run several times.

For his young age, he was quite adventurous and securely attached, but as soon as he caught sight of Darcy, all other interests were swept away as he ran straight to her, leaping into her arms, and hugging her tightly. Lilith would never have let anyone but Darcy leave the Habitat with Frederick, and it had taken Darcy several months of preparation, with increased duration and distance before she ever dared to go this far away.

Mark had assured her that it was the perfect atmosphere for Frederick, as most of the grounds were landscaped tropical jungle. They both knew that Management would never be able to make a decision to let him off the premises, so they just neglected to ask.

While Darcy and Frederick exchanged signs and kisses, Mark drew Darcy and Frederick into the conversation, introducing Merle in the process.

“Hey, Babe. What do you think about the place so far? Frederick has been flipping out over the foliage, and I can barely keep him out of the trees. I’ve never seen him grin so much, and I can barely keep up with his signing. He’s very excited.”

(Early on they had recognized that the same harnesses that had been en vogue in the 50′s to help restrain children, especially in public places would be the best way to protect Frederick any time they took him outdoors.)

A forty foot leash gave him enough range to roam comfortably, and most of the time they didn’t need it, as he tended to stay close in unfamiliar territory.

“Oh yeah, excuse me Darcy, this is Merle, one of the Pharmacists I told you about. Merle, this is Darcy…”

“Nice to meet you, at last, Darcy…You’re something of a celebrity in these circles, especially since Mark can’t seem to stop talking about you…and now I see why.”

“We were just discussing Merle’s latest discovery…courtesy of PharmaCorp…they were researching a new variety of anti-depressants. Turned out that one of the formulae has a bi-product that is just an analog isomer of the final product. It gets thrown out whenever they make a batch, but Merle discovered…well speculated at first, and it turned out he was right. The primary bi-product produces an effect on the brain that resembles a cross between ‘Molly’ and electrical stimulation of the left parietal region…”

“…the God Phenomenon? Fucking brilliant…wow! Plus pure MDMA? Must be like the best Acid trip you ever had with a side of Yopo…”

“…well, that was a crude analogy on my part…Merle says it has to be experienced to really know…of course. And gratefully, it contains nothing that even resembles MDMA that could get it labeled as such, and it’s not in the least illegal…at least not yet, if we can keep a lid on this…but…Ash has already taken it. In fact he’s on it right now…so is Merle and they are convinced it’s The Sacrament…”

“I prefer to think of it as the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…I keep thinking about the part in the Bible were God says ‘they think they are as we’, also implying a polytheistic view in the beginning of the Old Testament…way before the trinity…some people want to see God…others prefer to be God…in a half-dozen trials so far, it seems to be very flexible…as far as connecting the missing parts of any of our subjective realities…to give continuity to all things you see. I am Blissed beyond description…and charmed by your countenance, I might add.”

Merle spoke in such calm, measured tones that Darcy and Mark hung on every word.

As Merle spoke, he began slowly standing up, or at least it seemed slowly, considering that Merle had been sitting cross-legged on top of a three and a half foot-high-cut tree stump, and simply straightening out his long, lanky legs to stand up looked like an unending process, even though he accomplished the task effortlessly, with the grace of a crane.

He was almost seven feet tall, slightly thin, but wiry and almost too good-looking for a man. He wore a sort of Kaftan, or robe of some kind that bore designs unfamiliar to either Mark or Darcy. 

There was a sort of refined aboriginal look about it, as if it was a synthesis of several systems of hieroglyphs. Darcy and Merle just smiled knowingly at each other.

She smiled reflexively, as she often did any time she saw a man taller than her near-six-foot stance, and he smiled also, because he already knew how she felt…that all people either very short or very tall felt.

The remarks (in good humor, but tiresomely inane), the looks they could feel whenever they stood up, or entered a room, or the isolation that one experiences every time you have to either stand on your toes, bend down, or otherwise attempt to either make eye contact, kiss, or align yourself in some way as to be on their (aka everyone else’s) level.

“It’s a good thing we’re outdoors…Ain’t you one long drink of water?!” Darcy quipped.

“I bet you play basketball…” Merle retorted.

“How’s the weather up there?” Darcy asked.

“If you stand up too fast, do you ever get nosebleeds?”

“Wow! They should put a red light on your head to warn low-flying aircraft.”

“You have the most beautiful eyes…How’s that for one we don’t usually hear?”

Darcy gasped slightly, or perhaps she was afraid she did, as she found herself looking upwards into Merle’s eyes. Egyptian blue, which markedly contrasted his dark, almost black straight hair. Merle was Apache, except for his curiously blue eyes, (courtesy of one of his grandmother’s indiscretions, he was told).

Darcy had become accustomed to only making that kind of eye contact in bed. This was proving to be one of the most interesting days she could remember in a long time, and for her that was saying something.

“At least that is how it appeared to me, and since I live here, take it on good advice, not for nothing considering how much weird shit I see around here all the time, but this day is special…speaking of bad manners, you’d think I was raised in the jungle or something…Please allow me to introduce myself…I am your narrator for this portion of your edification, enlightenment, and entertainment. I am Raul, a Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis).”

(Camera zooms out to reveal that last shot was over-the shoulder POV of small frog clinging to the bark on the trunk of a banyan tree. Next zoom in on eye of frog until all is black…)

“Hey! You don’t need five million dollars worth of special effects to suggest to you what you simply need to imagine, do you?…Go ahead, Reading could use a quantum leap like that in its conceptual development too…and so could we all.”

The Great Experiment

(Zoom out from center of frog’s eye to reveal over-the-shoulder shot of a telemarketing phone center cubby. Raul, our narrator, is on shoulder of one of the Member Care Advocates’ jacket, having hitch-hiked from his place of relative safety and comfort in the jungle, where last we saw him to This Place of Horrors that even laboratory test animals call “The Place Where the Lab Rats go to Die”).

*Please note that Raul is wearing glasses, and a headset with boom mike, and reading the narration that you see here before you….”

“So, what, did you think you were rid of me that easily after such a clever introduction?”

(Frog looks over eyeglasses with raised brow as he extends his left hand, palm up, imploringly as he slightly lowers his script. As he continues, the camera pans the cubby.)

“There is a computer, a flat-screen monitor on a cantilever arm, a physical telephone, (up to) three authorized and approved photographs, approved versions of about eight separate campaign scripts in sheet protectors on single ring binders hanging everywhere, a small dry-erase board, a drink mug, and half a landfill’s worth of food wrappers balled up like tumbleweeds.”

(“Even this is being read by your narrator, Raul, the Frog, who slightly whispers with the dispassionately detached impartiality somewhere between that of an Animal Planet voice-over, and a golf tournament.”)

“Now I understand why they adopted the new, lower cubbies…no place to hide, further enhancing the concept of televised anonymity…you are not special…hit the green light…we see all, we hear all…and we are timing everything you do second by second…focus on this week’s stretch goal…too many personal breaks?…you need to cut down on your fiber and drink less water if you intend to meet expectations…and if you don’t, the sides are too low to even hang yourself. God! I haven’t felt this sense of overwhelming hopeless Despair since that time I snuck into a high-school biology lab.”

“Observe the Telemarketer. Not the portrait of a happy, well-adjusted individual. His face is slack and devoid of enthusiasm. This was supposed to be a summer job, an interim or interlude to get him by until Something Better came along…only it didn’t. How long can you fall before you hit bottom?”

”He used to Dress for Success; suit and tie, the Full Monty. People used to mistaken him for Corporate…now he just barely skirts the minimum allowable limits of the dress Code. For over six months, his screen-saver sported a picture of a quote in German that bore the translation ‘Work shall set you free’ before someone realized it was a photograph of the entrance gate to Dachau, and made him take it down.”

“When I first saw Charles, he had just come to visit THFWS (The Home for Wayward Souls). He had a desperate, exhausted look about him. That was right after he had his nervous breakdown…funny thing, though…call centers like these are one of the few places you can either get or keep a job when no one else will have you.”

“The work place of the Doomed.”

“It didn’t take long for Charles to become a regular at THFWS, or to learn how to channel his disdain for his occupation into an invisible contempt for his addiction to letting his temporary present circumstances determine his state of being. Somehow, the money seemed to come from unanticipated sources when he needed it most, and the rest of the time, he improvised, adapted and overcame (or repaired) with that cavalier air of detached compassion he learned so quickly from Ash, who had worked at the call center a few years ago, while he was trying to get THFWS financially afloat.”

“That, by the way, was before Kali launched her website…it went viral in a big hurry…brilliant concept…it still not only pays the bills (even the legal fees), but may yet make the center financially independent…Yoga, Tantric, Kundalini, or Zen Eroticism…unflinchingly explicit…very sexy stuff for very spiritual people…controversial, and extremely popular, but, I digress….”

“Charles is participating in a ‘program’ (experiment) utilizing pre-recorded loops of anticipated ‘pivots’ using his voice, to be manipulated by ‘qualifiers’ who will not actually speak a word to any ‘targeted’ members ever.”

”The theory being that three ‘Qualifiers’ can support one ‘Closer’ at any given time if allowances are made, as needed to ‘segue’ one ‘closer’s’ lead to another closer by means of what sounds like a ‘warm transfer transition’ (also pre-recorded), allowing the second ‘Closer’ to take over if the first closer is busy.”

”It all sounds ‘Live and In Person in Real-time’, but it’s all covered by probabilities based on research data that generally confirmed that at present, the vast majority of the people who actually answer unsolicited telephone calls from unknown origins are so dim-witted, drugged, drunk, senile and/or delirious, ignorant, and gullible that there really is not a great deal of need to present arguments in a Logic-Driven method as long as they are presented ‘Persuasively’.”

(“Raul continues to provide the voice-over, quips the handsome and witty Raul…” [until he is stopped by a voice in his headset]…”Yes Sir…I understand…no more embellishments or improvisation on my part…I just thought ‘handsome and witty’ helped keep the thing light-hearted…no, no one gave me any such authorization…I understand…it won’t happen again.”)

Raul blinks several times, wipes his glasses, and shakes his head as he reads: “but the most bizarre part of this whole thing is that the ‘Qualifiers’ that are being trained are Chimpanzees and Bonobos.”

”This is an experiment that has been years in the making, first training the primates to sign, then to respond correctly by listening for key words in what appears to be random speech by pressing a switch that is backlit with a particular icon associated with those certain key words at the next available opportunity when the member pauses. The key words are associated not by logical identification, but rather a hierarchy of needs that those words represent on a subconscious level.”

“Anybody gullible enough to answer a telephone survey has contributed to that research on one level or another.”

”The chimp doesn’t need to understand a single iota of what any of it means in order to simply associate a spoken word with a task, but they can quickly weed out the answering machines (press a telephone icon, thereby leaving a pre-recorded message), dead air, (different icon, scheduled for call-back at another time at least two hours later), and hang-ups that occur during the initial introduction.”

“After that, the first few remarks made by the target are to be answered by pre-recorded messages that vaguely sound like they answer the question, but are really ‘set-up lines to ‘soften’ the ‘Target’ while introducing the ‘Need’ by use of the hierarchy outlined earlier.”

”Properly applied, the hierarchy is the equivalent of jangling your keys to distract a crying baby.”

“In this respect, even the most successful and seasoned salespeople are by comparison, ‘loose cannons’ if they try to use Logic to manipulate targets that are NOT logic-driven at all.”

” If the target gets through a specified series of responses, they are ‘handed off’ to the ‘Closer’.”

“ Although this ‘experiment’ appears to have legitimate value, (since primates are owned; they are not hired, and have even less rights that any human toiling in a ‘Right-To-Work’ state like Florida, so their only cost is represented in housing and maintenance) it would be naïve to assume that the real purpose of this project is even related to telemarketing, no matter how firmly their executives will proclaim otherwise, because they actually believe it as well.”

”One corporate moron will receive ‘leaked’ information that Management is looking for something or another in the form of a pilot program to… (fill in the blank) because it needs to look like it came from within, even if its origins are much higher than appearances would lead one to believe.”

“There is no better way to conduct any research than for the test subjects to believe they are participating in something that is totally unrelated to what is actually being measured. Add to that the possibility that the best way to keep top secret research secret is to conduct it as if it were researching something of much more mundane subjects.”

“Think about it…train an animal to take commands, to respond with sign language, to perform specific tasks to monitor computerized responses to specific stimuli…that does not question authority or make random moral judgments…that has faster reflexes, better hearing, and is at least five times stronger than any man…that does not expect a retirement or better benefits, will accept any ‘working conditions’ and will never try to set up a Union…and can be autopsied at any time if it is deemed necessary…who might be interested in something like that?”

” …Who indeed…Remember, that when the Mercury Space Program was being created, the Primates outperformed the Humans on so many levels that it was finally decided to use Humans only for the benefit of public opinion and interest.”

Raul looked like he was starting to recall those memories of that high school biology lab.

Management

You will read the term “Management” numerous times in the course of this story. Although it is somewhat purposely vague, as a concept, it is more important to understand what it represents, rather than specifically whom it is, as the identities are less important than the functions they perform, or why.

First comes Middle Management, the ‘Collaborators’ of all work place functions. The term ‘Collaborator’ was originally a World War Two invention used initially in France to describe the recently defeated citizens (mostly women), who were willing to suck Nazi Cock and/or perform “…any and all other tasks and assignments…as deemed necessary, based upon ‘business needs’ by Management…” for chocolate, nylons, cigarettes and other favors, usually at the expense of the rest of the others who weren’t.

In France, it got your head shaved, while here it gets you a corner cubby, a badge, and other favors. In either case, it represents a person who is willing to sell out their own kind for personal benefit. 

f this seems like an unfair or harsh pronouncement, keep in mind that most Upper Management has read The Art of War, while Middle Management attempts to find new and imaginative ways to spin The Secret or The Power to their subordinates.

Upper Management knows who their enemies are, and conducts their operations like Warfare, while the Employees are encouraged to think positive thoughts to bring positive results by being contented with whatever falls from Management’s Table.

This is not to imply that The Secret, or The Power are not perceptive and valuable texts, but it is only after recognizing the subjugation and victimization practices in Management’s Warfare against their workers, that one starts to look elsewhere to find out how to draw upon their own power by using positivity to affect their own lives.

Ironically, it would seem best to not wage war against Management, but to rather redirect your own positive energies to your own devices.

Middle management wants to have you believe than you can use positive thoughts to get better leads on a computer-programmed dialer that has pre-set parameters called ‘skill sets’ to get better calls, rather than to use it to find better work…preferably something you love that rewards you rather than someone else.

If the analogy of Middle Management prostituting itself to The Enemy seems extreme, then you either have never actually worked in either Upper or Middle Management, or you are sufficiently numb as to not even feel it any more when it is being done to you.

Upper Management can mean a lot of different things, since some corporations have vice presidents in charge of specific functions, who spend their time supervising that operation when they are not creating the perception of a need and justifying their own positions and salaries, often at the expense of the actual operation itself.

Once called Efficiency Experts, Capitating Coordinators, or the like, they have to pay their salaries with the money saved by cuts and reductions in the production staff.

More like Decapitation, it’s a corporate version of Three-Card Monty since Management is not likely to pay someone to spend more money without justifying it by taking it from someone else, and somehow Management prefers the idea of taking it away from the production staff so they can give it to some corporate cocksucker with an agenda.

Further evidence of the contempt Management has for their own staff, as if one Privileged Executive Life is supposed to equal three hundred rank-and-file workers.

This lowest strata of Upper Management are the snake-oil salesmen of their realm, a sort of semi-legitimate version of the ‘Long Con.’ They are generally contracted, rather than hired per se, and as such are often not company employees, but consultants.

These are the guys that can sell a salesman a pipe-dream. They do not stay much of anywhere very long, and are about as useful as a Remora is to a Great White…at least as long as the Shark thinks so.

Then comes so-called Upper Management, most of whom can’t make a decision to take a crap without having “Legal” “look over it” first. Most of them spend the vast majority of their time and efforts just trying to keep their jobs. While they may be felons on any number of levels, they are not true Gangsters. Gangsters in upper management have all the swagger of a Made Man who has somehow leveraged his way into “Legitimate Business.” But even if he is a CEO, he still answers to a higher authority, one way or another.

Keep in mind, that the philosophy that is operant here is a Zero-Sum Game, in which it is assumed that for one party to gain, another party must lose.

Then comes The Government, part of which is also controlled more by ‘Wise-Guys’ rather than Wise Men. One day, along comes the wrong dickhead from the Department of…, or the Bureau of…, “…and they just want to go over a few things…” and even if you are the CEO, you will do as you are told.

They are the Privateers of the business world…just doing the King’s business with Government Sanction…(These guys are also the intermediaries who may get used to manipulate an executive, or an entire corporation on behalf of someone to whom allusions are made, but names are never spoken.)

Bigger corporations often own smaller corporations, and are not above wrecking one company just to benefit the other company, or to simply liquidate an acquisition as a method of securing capital.

Bigger corporations are not above manipulating the government, its people, or their laws for as much as they can for as long as they can get away with it. If you get caught, no big deal…pay a ten million dollar fine for stealing five billion, and it’s no more than “the cost of doing business”

Government is just as likely to manipulate business as well, since even businesses that do not do government contracts know better than to “just say no.”

For these, and many other reasons, even when a business does something that looks too stupid for explanation, the chances are that it was done for other reasons not so easy to understand, by someone with no concern for the operation itself.

Try to imagine a marionette being manipulated by another marionette, who is being controlled by a puppet master.

So when you read that Management has made some decision, keep in mind, that could be anyone from a CEO’s wife to The President.

Whoever pulls the strings.

Merle (as Introduced by Ash)

“I first met Merle when we were enrolled at the University of Florida. He was studying Botany and Pharmacology, and I was enrolled in the Seminary. Back then, we didn’t pay much attention to gainful employment, or even life after college. We were in the moment…back then, our dreams and speculations centered around Utopian visions. Now our visions foretell of the Apocalypse. We both had generous scholarships, and came from the kind of middle-class homes that equated a college education with financial and social success, so there was no shortage of support of any kind. We felt Invincible. Our Needs were few, and we worked at pursuits that seemed to generate as much money as we needed, but didn’t require regular hours or interfere with our studies.”

“I played guitar and acted as front man for a sort of loosely arranged group of musicians that used to jam together. Each of us had our own arrangements, charts, and/or recordings of previous live performances that we would use to provide some identifiable semblance of structure, that we rehearsed in different forms so, depending on who was available at any given time, we could more or less show up at a gig, and just get into it, much like the way jazz musicians perform in some clubs. In a very peculiar way, they were our “Standards”, considering that we had an audience that usually was already familiar with the same influences. I recall someone calling the scene “Art Rock”, or something like that. We could be quite pretentiously unpretentious about form, or genre, and we catered to a very indulgent, but sophisticated audience.”

“It was a college town, so there was no shortage of well-trained versatile musicians, or dives, garages, basement clubs or bars; empty buildings awaiting their next future failed venture, and it was not at all unusual for other musicians we knew to just show up at one of our gigs, and jump right in. Sometimes we would hop from one club or practice session to another, or even crash an out-of-town gig to surprise a “rival” band…not that there seemed to be a lot of competitiveness in what we were doing…we were just doing it. To even get paid at all was great, and we frequently used most of what we got to buy more instruments, and electronics. We rarely ever spent much money on drugs, because there was also no shortage of fans and friends only too happy to see to it that we didn’t want for recreation, companionship, or entertainment. ‘Who Shall Entertain the Entertainers?’ Indeed.”

“From my point of view, any money I got somehow justified all the money I was spending just to play in the first place. I realized at an early age just how much I loved to perform. The Clergy appeared to be a way to perform for an audience that was infinitely more respectable than Rock, or even Jazz Music, and Classical was way too straight-laced to suit my nature. My folks were scientists, and they just wanted to be sure I had something to fall back on, preferably with a Health Care Plan.”

“We also had this shared following/audience of roadies, self-proclaimed agents (anybody who got us a job got ten percent), groupies, friends, zealots, and the most amazing group of hangers-on that I’ve ever known…college used to be like that…an intellectual, spiritual, and sexual Mecca for persons of like mind and aspirations…which leads us to Merle.”

“We called him Merlin the Magician because of his legendary talents with Botany, Chemistry, and Pharmacology, which he used to provide us with just about every sort of psychedelic, hallucinogenic, psychotropic, and stimulant imaginable and make it look like an experiment. He was from Arizona, so he had great access to many plants that were sources of Sacraments to the Aboriginal and Indigenous Peoples of North America.”

”As a mixed breed Apache, he genuinely believed he was entitled to ancestral rights in the pursuit of his religion(s), which he had actively studied and pursued since his childhood. He was the son of a Shaman, and was well on his way to becoming an accomplished one himself.”

”As much as each tribe strives to maintain their own cultural heritages, Merle had spent many summers traveling from one reservation to another, to swap magic with other Medicine Men and Brujos, picking up Mojo from every place he went, and eventually leaving a little of his own as well.”

”He called it ‘cross-pollinating,’ as he traveled like the bee, from flower to flower.”

“I had spent so much time and effort studying what I came to call Theoretical Theology that I did not recognize how far I was outside of mainstream religion or anything that remotely resembled any organized religion. I saw no conflict between my pursuit of deviant forms of music, sex, art, philosophy, theology, sociology, anthropology, or my own brand of spirituality and my desire to be a holy man, even if the prospects of finding a church to hire me were effectively nonexistent. Merle maintained that we were already both holy men by virtue of our chosen paths, as well as our actions themselves.”

“He had wisely chosen a career path that would afford him means, and respectability as long as he kept himself within certain legal guidelines. I decided that I would try to conform enough to get hired by a Unitarian Universalist church that provided me with a lot of latitude as far as Theology was concerned, at least until I met Kali.”

“She came to us on the heels of a very ugly, messy divorce down in Palm Beach county that could have rivaled the Pulitzer divorce, had they been wealthier or more notorious. She had been sufficiently wise to get enough Hush Money in the settlement to be comfortable for a while, but she did not demand enough money to bring her future ex-husband into sufficient temptation to consider making her disappear, of which she believed him to be quite capable.”

“As it was there was a bit of tongue-wagging by a few of the more vocal and self-righteous married women within the congregation before Kali arrived, but we all found her to be intelligent, thoughtful, gracious, charming…and beautiful…especially me. We were married within the year, but already the clouds of controversy were looming on the horizon like a storm at sea, and eventually that controversy led to not only my dismissal, but the revocation of my membership in the Unitarian Church as well.”

“During this time, Merle managed to travel and gather experience pretty much wherever he chose, doing consultant work for several pharmacological labs. Whenever he was near enough, he would stay with us in our home. I did counseling and social work when I could get it, as much for the sake of my pride, which Kali respected, despite the fact that we essentially lived off the proceeds of her money and investments, which I largely to this day cannot pretend to really comprehend or understand, but I trust her instincts, as well as her intentions.”

“One time when he came to us, he brought Peyote he had just gathered during his last trip out West. Sometime during that visit, we sort of jointly received what most people, including myself would call an epiphany regarding the source of the controversy leading to my dismissal.”

”Why not build a church around the very Principle that had precipitated my unemployment?” 

“Why not indeed?”

“What has Brought About my Downfall Shall Become my Strength. Make Controversy the building blocks to set around the Cornerstone of my Church, which shall be a spiritual mission devoted to Polyamory, and the Pursuit of Higher forms of Consciousness, and in so doing provide a loving and creative environment of nurturance and support that would effectively channel and direct the same forces that by virtue of their strength can either destroy our culture, our families…even our spirits themselves, or energize and strengthen our thinking, our actions, and our approaches without Fear, Guilt, Sin, or Jealousy by embracing both Love and Sex without reservations or restrictions.”

”To allow and encourage all of us to realize that we possess within us the power of both God and Goddess alike…The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

“If it weren’t for Power, Death, Love and Sex there wouldn’t be any need for any Church at all….”

“You could say that Merle was my Wing-Man, and Kali was Our Angel.”

Kali, Darcy, and Merle

As Mark and Dar