Mind Games, Part SIX Squared
"I seem to remember some character who called himself Morphingus; somebody I thought was an e-mail pen pal, at least... telling me that if I made it that far my troubles would only just be starting, or something like that. Oh, yes, it was only yesterday morning! Or was it several weeks ago. How long did it take you to build all this, Trank?", I asked bitterly, "...and when were you going to tell me about this little play pen? Just the building and its four minars must be about as big as the whole Village, and the gardens are several times that size." Trank muttered something about having to update it and only getting around to it yesterday; which still left me wondering which yesterday.
Dr Mentz showed me his right palm. There was the pale trace of a nearly healed shallow wound. It looked like the kind made by a .22 bullet with a cross cut in the nose; going in, that is. A round like that would have scooped a dollar sized crater out of the back of his hand on the way out.
"You'd snapped the pencil point off in the Gleissner's left hand," Mentz explained, "doing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to it in the process. This," he indicated the mark, "was just from the splintered end of the wood. It hardly broke the skin, really." That was one bloody expensive pencil, I thought to myself. What had they made it from, the world's last piece of mahogany? "It was short circuits cause by the graphite that made the job so costly... had to replace the whole muscle fibre bundle...a square centimetre of dermal nanosensory tech..." I quickly wearied of his itemised repair bill and sought out a free end of narghila pipe, took the silver 'Mogul's mouth piece' out of its velvet niche in the stash box, fitted it and sucked on the hubble bubble as if the glass cooling water vessel also contained all the breathable air left in the room.
I locked my throat muscles and tried not to breathe out. The architectural details of the Taj interior began to reticulate and fragment. Semi precious vines writhed with mineral life, throwing off edges and after images like a displaying peacock on a massage bed. Tunnel vision was setting in and I'd ceased to be able to tell what the all pervading racket was. I placed my hands carefully on the marble top of the display copy of Mumtaz Mahal's opulently marble coated coffin and forced myself to breath out slowly. My hands sank into the marble... no, my elbows were bending and sprites were dancing in a visual field which had broken up completely so that I could no longer tell what was in it.
Several voices we're saying "Are you alright?" or its equivalent in a variety of accents including Chinese. I assured everyone that I would be, having just avoided passing out from a combination of the super strong blow and sheer lack of oxygen. Apparently I'd turned beet red and been making noises like 'a pepper sprayed raccoon' or 'a constipated wood pigeon', depending on whether you listened to Trank or Professor Young. I finally coughed, self consciously. The last time I'd tried one of these it had been fired with cow dung and I'd had to add the black hash myself. This one was super cool and the smoke had caught at the back of the throat but hadn't really ripped into it, leaving just a remnant tickle when I had finally breathed out.
"You know," said Dr Mentz approvingly, "you have a remarkable pair of lungs!" I sneezed out the last of the smoke in a burst of laughter and sorted coughing all over again. "Oh, I'm sorry!" he continued, "I didn't mean to make you do that; it's just that.... I have seen People suck on one of these.... and you really do have a remarkable pair of lungs!" I was also having a severe time dilation. I25th Street Congress seemed to have been playing for ages and I was getting bored with it. Time for that old standby, the OutsideInside LP by Blue Cheer www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT8SEP…
. I located the laptop and typed it in while I took stock.
Both Psychiatrists were either refusing to partake or pretending to partake but, like President Clinton, never inhaling as far as I could tell. Dr. Carrington had taken a few cautious, ladylike sips. Trank was doing nothing, unless one counted leaning back, staring at the lofty domed ceiling and blowing out an enormous plume of smoke as doing something. He had reacted only slightly when the music changed. Dickie Petersen's over amplified Fender bass hit the air like a tuned set of Hell's Angels' hogs. I'd been practising that bass line, so I backed into my rattan chair, took a deep breath and struck out with my 'air bass' cover version of it, stamping on an imaginary fuzz tone pedal as I did so. This performance did not necessitate miming the playing of an actual electric guitar. Trank could have dropped in a 'real' one, I supposed, but he hadn't bothered. I could actually hum, and on the lower notes achieve vocal effects akin to Tibetan throat singing, the actual notes he was playing.
Dr. Ben Wei had stopped looking as if I were having a heart attack in front of his eyes and started listening. He had penetrated to the fact that some of the music was not coming from the distant loud speakers. Karl was toking enthusiastically and looking puzzled at the same time as if he didn't know whether Blue Cheer really had had two bassists or not. Dr Mentz evidently knew that BC was basically one of the world's first acid doom metal power trio blues rock punk bands ever, before Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath first strutted their own stuff with two of the best debut albums ever released on either side of the Atlantic. I think he was contemplating taking up the air guitar for Leigh Steven's stereo panned lead solo. This was rapidly getting to be like having the Caterpillar round for the Mad Hatter's tea party. "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues," I said in a Texan accent, "Aah've traahd everything!"