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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vespertine (excerpt 12)

Vespertine
With my signal analysis/wave propagation training almost complete and my head blown off by the glories of pharmaceutical enlightenment, I was more than a little anxious to get on with my journey to the Orient.
Advisors from NSA Headquarters were preparing us for the precursor to our official assignments,which was an internship in radio telemetry.
Once again we were sold on all the benefits, privileges, status, honor, and financial rewards to look forward to upon completion of our assignments. Well, I had absolutely no plans for retirement and absolutely no allegiance to anything or anyone but myself.
Before entering the military I had virtually no interaction with White people except the anonymous Caucasian who’d end up on the opposite side of my fist, those who fell victim to a brick, bottle or knife thrown their way or mine.
I knew very well that White people yielded sanctioned privilege over Black people at every bend in the road. Every pursuit in every field of endeavor was limited; our ceiling appeared to be merely the floor of White people.
Now I found myself in all relative terms the peer of the children of the country’s most privileged white people. I was the spook sitting comfortably inside the door – I wanted to study this thing. I wanted to master these people.
Quiet as it was kept, the wise and privileged White power people knew Vietnam was about to break out. They placed their children in the intelligence wing of the military; the most advantageous position to avoid any possibility of seeing combat. The draft was for the poor and the ignorant.
It’s 1962. The counterculture’s rising in wonderbread like yeast. The power peoples’ children are flirting with rebellion, marijuana, and most shocking of all - the epicurean wiles of Negro culture: our jungle music, the lascivious grind of rock and roll and the heroin blue of jazz.
I’d peeped these privileged youngsters in the dark corners of the Baby Grand and the Village Vanguard like pure white salt in a jar of spicy pepper that multiplied slowly every week.
I decided to take my White classmates on as guinea pigs. I wanted to strip them bare, to peek into their pysche and see what made them tick. Obviously, through the inheritance of their collective unconscious, they saw themselves as the benefactors of the globe, the architects of civilization, the goose that laid the golden egg; the ones who first stood upright and went forth as the great discoverers, the great explorers. Okay.
I had their little minds spinning round in circles. I challenged those fairy tales everytime I saw one coming. My natural intensity, my spiritual inheritance, the independent atmosphere of my hometown, along with the uncompromising role models in my life made these aristocratic white folks very easy to dominate.
Being the heroic representative of all things hip, dangerous, and black they begged me to show them all the nocturnal delights of New York and Boston.
As I stated previously in our journey I had plenty cousins and uncles in the game up North. My favorite cousin was a young man a couple years my junior named Vesper.
Every family has their free radicals, their black sheep. In my family Aunt Carla was the blackest, freest, most radical of all my relations.
My granddad had three daughters: Crystal, Camille, and Carla.
My grandfather, as you already know, was a very high brow, super- sophisticated gentleman, a respected member of society. My mother Crystal and her sister Camille were the golden apples of eyes. Carla was the rotten egg.
She drank, gambled, cursed, partied, and ran the devil back to God with her hell -raising. She was the bipolar opposite of everything the Roberts’ name represented. My family was Beverly Hills, she was Compton; she had a palace upbringing but preferred the projects.
Carla packed a knife and kept a souvenir of a man’s ear she sliced off in a gambling dispute. She was a tough, tiny woman with a mean, mean streak that would caution even the terrorist cats of Moppingtown.
She had two children, a daughter and a son.
As Mister Lushus entertained the upper crust people, Carla partied with the crumbs and burnt ends. Her little house was a nonstop juke joint. Sex, drugs, and blues were the order of the day.
So Vesper was overexposed to all the trappings of that lifestyle, the sexual aspect in particular.
It was black caligula at Carla’s house. Vesper’d wake up at night with people screwing right in front of him. When the women passed out drunk, he’d pull their panties down and steal a free hump.
In the first grade Vesper got expelled when a teacher caught him having sex with a fifth grade girl in the back of the cafeteria, in the middle of lunch. Our entire childhood was one episode after another of him trying to entice me into his libertine engagements.
Vesper, like myself, always had a natural strength with women. The difference being that I really was a good guy in bad guy clothes while Vesper’s bad guy persona was only the tip of the iceberg. Up into our teens Vesper was the Hugh Hefner cat that turned all the young ladies into freaks.
His dad was a hustler/con artist extraordinairre from Boston. His front was a job as a bellhop in one of the posh hotels in downtown Beantown.
He’d steal jewelry, fur coats, cash, suitcases; anything not nailed down. Once, he jacked some mob boys out of an entire suitcase of cash. The mafia cats abducted him and dangled him off a penthouse balcony.
His dad didn’t budge. He gave no confession. He feigned innocence until they believed him and ran off with the money while maintaining the confidence of the very mafia cats he jacked.
Vesper and his entire gangster family moved up to Boston where his pops’ thoroughly schooled him in every hustle of the street: the dope game, the pimp game, and every con known to man. By the time Vesper was twelve years old he was operating on the renowned plane of Iceberg Slim and his ilk.
I had not seen him since high school. I now had three years of college under my belt and my own reputation in Harlem and Boston with an internship at the National Security Agency with a top secret clearance.
I had a posse of rich white boys who idolized me and hung on my every word. But everytime I went out to party I missed him. He wasn’t at any of the haunts he typically would haunt. I decided to look up Aunt Carla.
“Orion, Vesper’s changed.” “Changed? He ain’t no born again Christian; cause if he is I’ll kick his
ass!”
“No, no, nothing like that. But Orion, if I could give up my cigarettes I’d be right there with him. I’m just too set in my ways.”
“Aunt Carla! What are you talking about?” “This is his address, I’ll let him tell you, but watch out...” Watch out? I hang up the phone beyond perplexed. Vesper’s changed
and Aunt Carla’s too set in her ways. I’d better watch out. No, something’s definitely wrong here.
Vesper was more like me than anyone else, except for him being a bipolar sex fiend. Besides that he had enormous physic strength and intellect. Maybe I’ll have to rescue him, bring him back around from whatever’s “changed” him.
I had a taxi take me straight away to his address. I knocked. “Yes?” “Ves, open up, it’s me, Orion!”
When the door opened it was him, but it wasn’t the him I’d known.
Vesper, like Michael Thomas was tall and lanky. He was a shade darker than me, caramel-colored. But now his head was shaven. He looked like a young, beardless Osama Bin Laden. Sunken face, deeply set crescent eyes. He looked high, but a different pedigree of highness.
He always had a relaxed manner but he was now so low-key he almost couldn’t be seen. It was unnerving.
“Orion, welcome. Come on in brother.”
“Vesper! What’s shaking man? Dig it, I got these John John Hyinasport white boys downstairs. I told them all about you. Get your rags on, we gonna get some dope, some chicks and hit the Baby Grand...”
“No.”
I’ve never heard a no like that, said so soft and firm it stopped my train of thought. Then he flashed a peculiarly radiant smile and sat down on his little
bed. “Ves, Aunt Carla told me something about you changing up on me. Now you know that Billy Graham shit is bogus...”
Vesper had always looked up to me, so I was ready to unload a mack on him to outmack whoever had macked him into this strange bag. Yet I saw something attractively different, something newly bottomless in him, a depth, a serenity, something else.
I ran down my military hustle to him, trying to impress him.
“Orion, be careful. That’s designed to break the strong of will. I’d hate to see you broke down, Orion...”
“Broke down! Look I’m king with these people! I’m learning all their secrets. They asked me why I love America; you know what I said, I told them to go fuck themselves.
“No, they’ll never make a punk out of me. But what’s up with you, man? You don’t party, you not hustling, you not pimping, what happened? Are you married? I know you got a woman under the bed right?”
“No.” That word again! “Orion, I’m fermenting.”
“Excuse me?”
“A period of gestation. I’m going through a period of evaluation in my training.”
“Training? What are you training in?” “Universal Awe.” “What the hell is that?” “Everything. It’s everything besides which is nothing.” Silence.
I’m getting pissed. Before I can go off on him he speaks. “You remember the legend of Ugoma?” “Of course I do Ves but...” “You remember who’d visit Illumination every summer at Fernwood.” “Jack Johnson. What does that have to do with...”
“Why do you think our hometown’s named Illumination? Ugoma, Jack Johnson, the strange ones who’d appear out of the mountains every so often; they were Lightholders. They were masters in the Science of Universal Awe. This is our inheritance, our destiny, yours and mine.”
I sat down.
And the fakir I saw up North who clotted the blood gushing out of his leg with the power of his mind, he came to my thoughts as well. Maybe he was a lightholder too.
A good feeling parted my growing anger. My intuition had always adorned the folklore of Ugoma with pride. As for Jack Johnson, only Michael Thomas, Vesper, and myself thought he was something more than a circus freak.
“Yes, Orion. He was.” Now he’s reading my thoughts!“There’s thousands of stars now... we’re a living, human constellation. The Black people, the Indians, the Mexicans, thousands of us.”
Thousands? Why am I just getting this? I prided myself as the hippest, coolest, most in the know cat around. How could there be a movement of thousands I haven’t peeped. I knew about Malcolm X and agreed with him. The apologetic methods of the civil rights movement were an utter joke though. All those weak-kneed Negroes begging white folks for crumbs were utterly pathetic.
But Blacks, Mexicans, and Indians in a movement called Universal Awe? How could I not know about that?
“It’s underground, just below the surface, like the blood flowing underneath your skin animating the whole person.
“Many Ugomas infiltrated the Americas, from Chris Columbus on down. They seeded both the atmosphere and the populous with light. Orion, how long does it take for light to be born?”
What? How the hell should I know? Humbled, I shook my head and threw my hands up unable to come up with an answer.
“They didn’t teach that in your little college did they? They sure ain’t gonna cover it in no NSA either. You know why?”
I shook my head negatively.
“Because we have the knowledge. Lightholders seed the sphere of atoms, they impregnate ideas into the brains of geniuses or gifted people while they are still in the womb. Every advancement in the recorded history of the externals, all their inventions, every bright idea, the thought came from us.
“It may take a lifetime or it could take hundreds, sometimes thousands of years but that idea, that advancement, that light will be born.
“Ugoma and the other lightholders’ idea survived through the horrors of slavery, the genocide of Meso-America and the trail of tears. Now we are that idea. Something new and beautiful is cracking out of its egg.
“This is why you’ve always felt different, apart from the others. We all know instinctively that something here is off but you were never equipped with the tools to investigate that knowing.
“I knew you’d eventually come here. Now the choice is yours.” “Vesper, I’ve got a fist full of dollars in my pocket. A driver’s
downstairs waiting for me... “I came here to see what’s happened to you. You’re my favorite cousin
but I don’t need you to score dope or pick up women. I can get into any spot in town on my own merit. I was just worried about you.
“But I’m gonna send the driver away. I’ll cancel all my plans on one condition. You’ve got to tell me everything about this thing you’re into. Take your time, tell me everything you know about this Universal Awe. You have my undivided attention.”

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