I added it all up in my head…
Since it was my house, everyone was looking to me to know what I was thinking. They didn’t know anything was wrong, except they saw me looking crazy and deep in thought. When someone finally asked me what was happening, I told them:
“THEY ARE CALLING THE POLICE, AND WE ARE GOING TO JAIL!”
It all made perfect sense… But, of course, I was on almost ten grams of mushrooms and was completely out of my mind. I knew I couldn’t freak out. Part of the reason I was taking them in the first place was to overcome my fears, to learn to control my mind, to become a psychedelic warrior! I needed to try and think… What would Castaneda’s Don Juan do?
I looked down and saw these weird white branches growing in a million crazy directions right in front of me. What are those, I wondered. Oh yeah…they are my fucking hands! Everyone was looking at me. I needed discipline… I needed to figure this shit out!
So I decided it must be one of the neighbors…but which one? Could I find them in time and stop them from calling the police? Would I have to kill them? Hopefully not… Surely it was too late for that anyway. I didn’t know where the police would be coming from, but knew there were only two ways to get to the house…and either way they would need to cross a bridge. Maybe the neighbors hadn’t called the police yet… Maybe they were watching to see what we would do first…
There was a small telescope and a pair of binoculars by the window. I grabbed them and started looking out into the night… I stared down the road, in the direction of the nearest bridge…the one that I figured they would most likely be coming from. Nothing was happening. I didn’t know how much time had passed, or how much time we had left, but the suspense was killing me… Where were they?
Finally, I saw a car crossing the bridge about a half mile down the road… It turned toward the house and then just stopped. I couldn’t see what was going on. The car looked like it was parked by another house down the road, but its headlights were pointed in our direction…maybe the people who called them. What were they doing… What were they waiting for?? Surely they must be spying back at us to see if they needed to call in reinforcements. Who could blame them… They didn’t know who we were. Maybe we were a cult and were armed to the teeth! They were probably sending in a SWAT team to survey the situation. Maybe it would turn out like the Branch Davidian compound in Waco… I hoped they wouldn’t just burn us down… I figured they didn’t need any more bad publicity. And then suddenly it looked like a spotlight was turned on. I told Terrence to turn out the lights. I wasn’t going to make this any easier for them. After a minute of sitting in the dark, the girls got nervous and said they wanted the lights back on. Good idea. They probably had night-vision goggles and heat-seeking technology anyway.
What was taking them so long? Maybe they were running the plates on the car to see who we were. Would they call first to negotiate our surrender, or just crash in through the windows on ropes lowered from the roof? If they saw the plates, they would know we were from New York. Everybody hates people from New York. We were trapped. God, why didn’t they just get it over with already??
And then I had an even worse thought: they knew exactly who I was, and they knew all about my mission! They knew I was just about to get my instructions so they decided they had to sabotage me. They had to stop me before I could find out how to save the world!! Were government officials working as henchmen for the forces of evil? Or was this some group of independent assassins who had pledged their allegiance to the dark one? I just wasn’t sure…
After a short hike, I reached a small clearing and got my first glimpse of the central acropolis. I was awestruck. Tikal! The lost Mayan city! When I got closer to the main plaza, my mind was flooded with visions of how the place would have looked fifteen hundred years earlier, when it was a pre-Columbian metropolis, a center for culture, art, science, and human sacrifice. It was magical.
Strangely, there was hardly anyone around. There were places you could stand, amid the ruins, covered in vines and surrounded by the lush jungle, without seeing another human being. The pyramids were over 150-feet high, with steep stairwells—perfect for rolling severed heads down during sacrificial ceremonies. There were hieroglyphic-infused stelae, with images of gods and beasts carved directly into the rock. Even though I couldn’t decipher the characters, I somehow had to make sense of it all. I knew there was still life and power in those stones, and could sense that there were clues everywhere—I just had to figure out a way to find them. The fact that I had absolutely zero archeological training was not going to stop me.
Was it possible that the dark magic of the Mayan death cults was still alive? That it had somehow managed to survive the demise of their city and culture, still lingering within these ancient monuments of their achievement? And if so, would we all ultimately be subjected to the same fate? Destined to repeat the same end? Was our debt too great to forgive…no other way to repair the damage of our transgressions? To restore the natural balance of the world, did our mother need to swallow us back up and reclaim our civilizations with the plants and animals and jungles and forests that came before us?
Or was it not too late? Could I somehow prove myself a worthy ambassador of humanity? To be deemed worthy by Ah-Puch, the Mayan God of Death, in the hope that he might choose to communicate with me and give me some answers—a key to our salvation!
Stepping into the Old City is like doing a stint in prison. Your identity gets stripped down to its most basic components. Nobody cares what you think or what you believe, so long as you identify with one of the established factions. You either stick with your own tribe, or you’re on your own. Based on proximity and family history, I became a Christian. As much as I wanted to believe that we can all get along in an ideal world, I quickly realized that when three of the biggest religions are all fighting for the same turf, you either choose a side or prepare to get caught in the crossfire.
I was amazed that all of these places, places that are considered so holy to so many, could somehow be crammed so close together. Separated by piles of rock. I struggled to understand how these people could all theoretically be praying to the same god, yet hate one another so much. They may have different prophets professing different interpretations, but at the end of the day it was all the same bullshit. But the one thing I couldn’t deny was that something was there. You could feel it. An energy that was undisputedly powerful, but not necessarily benign. It wasn’t like the energy I felt in Nepal; none of the mutual respect of the Hindus and Buddhists. Everything in Jerusalem just felt tense. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the holy places themselves, or the people who worshipped at them that had created the energy in the first place.
And this was the paradox I found myself dealing with. As much as I had been enchanted with the mysticism of the East—the simple and obvious truths; the philosophies that made total and complete sense in my mind—none of it could ever answer the pain in my heart. It was easy to comprehend that life is suffering, but it was not so easy to accept. I wondered if there was some genetic flaw in my European DNA that refused to come to terms with this kind of acceptance…something in me that wanted to fight! To fight and shape the world around me, instead of just accepting my circumstances. Even though there was a kind of madness, a reckless insanity that propelled me forward, it was the madness itself that gave me a small glimpse of hope…this idea that if I just kept pushing things a little bit further, eventually I would find my salvation. This was the Passion of Jesus, and I didn’t need to rationalize it one bit. I understood it in my body, in my blood, and in my soul.
When my father got sick, I began to understand that there’s a hole that can only be filled with religion. My father didn’t have that comfort of faith when he was dying, and I almost wished he had, even if for no other reason than to diminish some of the pain that is inherent in death. And even if all of the pieces didn’t add up in my mind, the power of Jesus was calling out to me. Like Fox Mulder with the UFOs…I wanted to believe.
After passing a number of stalls covered in fried insects of every conceivable variety, I turned onto Patpong Road. The street was glowing with the same neon signs, bars, and live-sex shows I’d seen just a few weeks earlier, but this time everything seemed so dull as to appear lifeless. Even the famous “ping pong pussy show” now just seemed like some kind of artificial approximation of life. All of the excitement and intrigue was gone. The tourists walking around looked like zombies, with no real purpose other than to be distracted…distracting themselves from the fact that we were all already dead, yet still going through the motions like a recently decapitated insect in a world that was also in the process of dying… Pretending to still be alive, but desperate and lonely just like me.
There were girls hanging out in front of the clubs, trying to pick up some work. A few tried to stop me, but I wasn’t interested. I was looking for something else. One girl tried to make a joke, alluding to the fact that if she wasn’t pretty enough for me, then surely I must not be interested in any girl. But most seemed to instinctively understand because it was no secret that they were not really interested either. Not in me; not in anything. They knew we were all just going through the motions. Some looked like they had known for a long time; others were just starting to realize. But ultimately it didn’t matter…the world was coming to an end.
I walked through the darkest alleys I could find. I could see the signs, as obvious as neon that junk was there. I could feel it. The problem was, just knowing it was there didn’t mean that it would be available to me. I was a farang, a foreigner, and wasn’t yet connected with the right people. I was so desperate and unconcerned with any consequences that I asked practically everyone I saw if they knew where I could score. After about an hour of this, I finally found someone who had the unmistakable look of an addict. The features of a junkie are often subtle to anyone who hasn’t been an addict themselves, but were clear to me. I told him I was looking for Dang, and he told me to follow him. We walked up some stairs to the platform of a train, and he told me that he was Dang. I was pretty sure he wasn’t, at least not the one I was looking for, but it didn’t matter—anyone could have been Dang; the name was as common as John. All that mattered was that he knew where the dope was.
When I woke up that afternoon, the first thing I noticed was that I was wet. Very wet. My skull was pounding, and my first thought was that I must have spilled something on myself in my drunken stupor. I looked around and realized there were no empty bottles or knocked-over drinks…something much worse had occurred. I had pissed in the goddamned bed.
I felt like the biggest fucking degenerate on earth. Here I was, halfway around the planet, in a country filled with some of the most self-disciplined and honorable people in the world, lying in a puddle of my own fucking piss. Sure, the room was small for almost 30,000 yen a night, but nothing warranted me pissing in their fucking bed! What would Megumi say if she could see me now? Dope never made me behave this way. I decided that maybe this was why there were no good white ninjas.
As hard as I tried to remember what had happened, I couldn’t. I tried to tell myself that maybe I really was drugged, but knew I was just trying to come up with some poor excuse for my behavior. And besides, I doubted anyone would really want to waste any Rohypnol on me. I had to accept that I was just a fucking mess.
To make matters worse, someone was knocking on the door. I looked through the peephole and saw the cleaning lady. As much as I wanted my room to return to its pristine former glory, I was too ashamed to let her in. In my still half-drunk state, I decided to ignore her, and hoped the whole situation would somehow dissipate like a bad dream. But, of course, it didn’t. How do you clean a piss-soaked bed anyway?