It was The New Age and there I was on the elevator — 68th floor, 15th floor, 43rd floor — thinking: bongs will never totally replace joints. Bongs have their place, sure, a big place. But a joint is a . . .
In these days we smoke carrot tops. I especially like a brand called “Wicked Spell.” Smoke Wicked Spell and you get half-definite about everything. This is the way it is in The New Age, half definite. In the old world, all I cared about was sex. At times I fucked so much I couldn’t see. In The New Age we are on a totally new plane. Way back then, civilization, so-called, was confused, complex. Now, in The New Age, we know what it’s all about: everything is OPPOSITE. In the cosmos, there are opposites to and for and about everything. He and she, it and who, plus and minus, yin and yang, up and down, sidewards and backwards, up to the left, down to the right — even the (supposedly) neutral neutrino has its positive and negative forms. There is an opposite cosmos but this is something else. The point is that everything that happens has a mirror-echo, an opposite, which usually happens and becomes, no matter what you try to do about it. As we say: “Okey dokey.”
Recently, I took a vacation trip to Ivagivik on the Ungawa Peninsula in what used to be called Canada (it is now North Hackensack). I was with an associate, Jane Feather. Ms. Feather is a journalist. She would travel with an Irish Setter with whom she would do unnatural acts. I, in The New Age, am content to masturbate; it is uncluttered. Ms. Feather’s mission was to interview a gentleman who lived on the island of Igloolike about the secrets of the Ouija Board.
Ms. Feather, at this time, was a correspondent for “Hockey News,” We approached the igloo on Igloolike where this man of knowledge — this purveyor of the clearest light around — was said to be residing.
A howling gale roared across the island as we neared the igloo of Sam Shaman. About 50 yards off, we heard the strains of a quaint Cantonese folk song. I peeked through the specially-made storm door on the igloo and saw the gentleman sitting, naked, playing mah jong.
I cleared my voice. “Mr. Shaman,” I said, “We have traveled very far to speak to you.”
Shaman, a very large man — eight or nine feet tall, at least, with a belly as big as a cow’s — says: “Feh.”
However, he then invites us in. He is chugging on some Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, straight. He pulls up some blocks of ice for us to sit on and asks if we’d be interested in tea. We say yes, and he goes over to the automatic tea machine quite common in these days, and brings back some green, sparkly liquid in a styrofoam cup.
“Shaman,” says Ms. Feather, “in these times you are known as the man who is on the right path.”
“Being on the wrong path is not so bad,” says Shaman, with a wink. “How is the tea?” he asks.
“This tea tastes like piss,” says Ms. Feather.
“You have hurt my feelings and feelings are the most important thing,” Shaman shoots back.
Then they settle down to a discussion about Ouija Boards. I should mention that I am very much out of this all. My name is Dave and I repair waterbeds — “No Leak Too Big,” is my motto — and as I said I am just on this trip as a holiday. However, I would very much like to fuck Ms. Feather and this truly keeps me going, it is my ultimate goal. But, I know as well as anybody else in The New Age about the Ouija Board. In the New Age Ouija Boards are the big deals, we’re governed by Ouija Boards. A Ouija Board is the premier of Russia, a Ouija Board is the president of the United States and president of Chase Manhattan Bank and Bank Americard. In fact all the congresspersons are Ouija Boards, and so is the premier and the main dudes in China and there are Ouija Boards in positions of power in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth to Eleventh Worlds. How the Ouija Boards took over the earth is a long story, but suffice it to say the boards got totally out of hand.
“Hockey News wants to know,” said Ms. Feather, “what makes the Ouija Board work?”
Shaman looked thoughtfully — mostly at Ms. Feather’s long, flopsy hair. It is red — as red as a red light. She has majestic green eyes. Shaman had since put on a pair of britches. Other than that he is unclothed. He has a most hairy chest. His hair, on both head and chest, is white, with streaks of orange and blue. He has eyes of burning black with which he was capable of making heavy eye contact. I myself have a dark complexion and was in casual attire. I have eyes that do not focus together.
I could see right off that Ms. Feather had a hankering for Shaman. I knew for some time that she preferred the big man.
“I thought Hockey News knew this?” said Shaman, “I thought Hockey News knew about everything?”
(Hockey News had established itself as the global newspaper of record, once humanity realized the relevance between politics and hockey.)
“We have an idea — we have our suspicions,” said Ms. Feather, “but in fact, we don’t know for sure.”
“Why do you think Ouija Boards work?” Shaman asks.
“We believe they crave affection,” said Ms. Feather.
“This is bullshit,” said Shaman. I, at this time, had picked up a record from the shelves on one of the igloo walls. It is an old favorite 45 of mine, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.” I place it on Shaman’s stereo. Shaman has no other possessions besides his stereo and records and some blankets. Everything else in the igloo, as was the way on Igloolike, was crudely hand crafted of ice, and clearly of only a temporary nature. Indeed, the ice block-chairs Ms. Feather and Shaman were sitting on were rapidly melting from the heat of their rear ends.
Shaman told Ms. Feather that he would take her to a place where she would get some more knowledge about the Ouija Board. Meanwhile, he suggested they bed down together for the night, which Ms. Feather happily seconded (I was insanely jealous) and the two of them slipped under one blanket — they threw me the other and Ms. Feather suggested that I sleep with her Irish setter, Harold. I declined, saying that Harold should stay with the sled dogs outside. But Ms. Feather said Harold didn’t like being outside all night in the cold, so the dog slid in with me and bothered me the whole night.
As soon as I poked my head outside the igloo the next morning, my face was spritzed and blitzed by countless flying particles of dart-sharp frozen ice. In one swirl of snow, I saw Shaman and Ms. Feather hitching up the dogs to the sled. I immediately popped a red pill that Captain Jack gave me before I left. Then I kicked Harold, who was bothering me, and put on my parka. The first 60 miles were not too bad. The snow sled bounced around a lot, but Shaman seemed to know well how to operate it. Ms. Feather and I sat up front, Shaman was in the back with his (monogrammed) whip. Ms. Feather’s dog ran behind. We came to a horrifying crevice. After surveying the crevice for some time, walking up and down the huge separation in both directions, Shaman said we would have to make a detour of many miles, taking us into most mountainous terrain. We passed the next three days carrying the sled, by hand, up very big mountains. It was a splendid ride, however, skidding down the mountains free-fall on the sled. The worst part was going to the bathroom in the midst of the various daily storms. We learned natives in these parts have 21 separate expressions for “freezing your ass off.”
Finally, we came to a jumbo, abandoned McDonald’s stand. I had never seen a McDonald’s stand so big. The golden arches stretched like anemic rainbows into the sky, there were massive hundred-feet wide cobwebs between them. There was a rusty sign with its clock stopped at “Over 17 Zillion Served.” I thought I saw three fat squirrels, but other than that there were no living things around. The stand just stood there, unoccupied, as the wind howled haughtily.
Ms. Feather, her sexy, pudgy nose almost totally frost-bitten, said: “So this is where you’re taking us, Shaman?” You could notice a breath of irritation in her voice.
Shaman said firmly: “Here we shall get the answer you seek.”
We left the dogs outside and slowly entered the gigantic McDonald’s.
Suddenly, the stand’s loudspeaker, which had been playing a Muzak-type sequence, in fact I think it had been 106 strings and an IBM 60783 computer playing “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White,” sounded forth with blaring, measured words: “You are no good.”
I was terrified. I decided I had enough. “I’m going back to Akron,” I said.
Shaman, who I believe regarded me as a competitor for Ms. Feather’s attentions all through this trip, said, rather curtly I thought: “You’ll never make it.”
I agreed, and kept moving with Shaman and Ms. Feather down the aisle. They were heading for a very big, old, brown register for cash — when we still used cash. The cash register began talking.
Shaman slipped a pint of Thunderbird wine out of a topcoat pocket and began chugging it down. (This was the first time in the entire trip I had seen him scared.)
“I challenge you to a joust, sir,” said the cash register.
Shaman said, “My parents had no children.”
In the background, “Spirit in the Sky” with Norman Greenbaum is coming over the loudspeaker. Ms. Feather is boogying around the place. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.
Things have not been too perfect with me lately. The waterbed business has been slack. My social life has been checkered. I am a man who looks like Magellan. This is not the best thing in The New Age. I have a penchant for getting involved with hysterical people. This creates troubles for me. Indeed, I took this vacation trip with Ms. Feather largely to get away from hysterical people, and in my view Shaman is an hysterical type and so is Ms. Feather a lot of the time, and this talking cash register is beginning to get me kind of hysterical also.
Finally, Shaman decides that the cash register is in a grouchy mood and we leave the McDonald’s.
Outside, back in the snow, he tells us: “The register is one of my gurus. But it is in a shitty way today. I thought it would tell you what it has often told me.”
“What is this?” asks Ms. Feather.
“The key is to live in the present,” says Shaman. “At least most of the time. There is something to be said for memories and fantasies, too, the register feels.”
“But what about Ouija Boards?” Ms. Feather persisted. “What makes them work?”
“I don’t think Ouija Boards do work,” said Shaman.
“Are you sure?” asked Ms. Feather.
“Not really,” said Shaman. “I’ve tried the Ouija Board many times, in this life and others. It has never worked for me. I ask it a question and it immediately says: ‘Fuck you Shaman.’ ”
“For you it doesn’t work well,” says Ms. Feather, “but it works somewhat.”
“You could say that,” said Shaman. He mentions that “there are other wise men, besides me, who say that Ouija Boards are far more intelligent than we can even imagine; that they are directly hooked into an archangel of God.”
I ask, “What does God look like?”
“In fact,” Shaman says, “he looks like you.” I am taken back. “However somewhat taller,” Shaman adds.
We amble off into the blizzard. I note how various tools are named for their inventors. “The monkey wrench was named for the inventor, Monkey,” I note, and we talk of the screwdriver. Shaman seems to be friendly with me now. Ms. Feather is back with her dog, Harold. I will tell you this about The New Age: it has its advantages and disadvantages.