So it’s true, I failed to report on the Tea Party itself. My request for more time was granted, in a manner of speaking, at least insofar as it went unanswered and there have thus far been no unseemly consequences for my having taken that non-answer as an affirmative one, and yet I failed still.

 

I blame it on the nature of the event itself. It was overwhelming.

 

We all filed out of the stadium after the wrestling event. When we made it back to Lazy Eye’s quarters, in the Other Town or New Mythos or what have you, they’d been recast, turned more luxuriant and kingly and antique along certain lines: rearranged, I don’t doubt, by Lazy Eye’s slave, whom I believe I have at least once referred to as Bruce and will again here (unless this is the first time Bruce has graced these pages, in which case: welcome Bruce).

 

Entering Lazy Eye’s abode, I was packed in with others, perhaps some of them the supernumeraries who’d been crowding around the edges of the stadium, trying to force their way in, or perhaps they were invited guests, or perhaps even some of them are the guys I used to work with on the chain gang (I say ‘used to’ somewhat lightly here, realizing that the chain gang chapter is either over or not over, and that I presently have no means by which to divine which).

 

In any case, something then happened in the preserve of Lazy Eye, who presided over the scene in partial absentium, in that he was physically present in a coterminous space, but was at that point so far down the rabbit- or rat- or worm- or somesuch-hole of Methadone that he was not emotionally present with us, if indeed emotional presence is ever one of this Lazy Eye’s salient features (I have never encountered him not in a Methadone Trance, except in the precious last instants before diving into said Trance, in which his only concern is quite clearly the Dive).

 

So we were served tea of some sort, by Bruce, and I remember thinking, “Are you just serving us reheated Alice in Wonderland kitsch and buttered scones?” and then eating a biscuit from a basket, and chewing over that phrase for a few moments, and then …

 

… now.

 

Here I am, on a very soft bed, I’d venture to say paralyzed. This might be the time to bring up the Night Crusher, and invite him into Dodge City. On the other hand (a figure of speech, since neither hand seems to belong to me at this point) it might not be. Perhaps the Night Crusher is best left in the cold and the quiet where he goes when he’s not needed. But I see him already, in the wings, being ushered into the Dressing Room by a costume designer who’s going to get him fitted and suited up to appear amongst us. So much for not dealing with the Night Crusher, on top of everything else.

 

I lie here on a softness, paralyzed even to the point of not being able to move my head nor even my eyes. And yet I am aware of the others, I cannot say how. I see them somehow inside myself, or at least stacked in my field of vision, as if there were some special inevitability to them that makes them impossible not to see no matter which direction my vision happens to be riveted in.

 

They’ve gone translucent, as if skinned. Not skinned, I see now, but with the skin of litchi nuts after having been soaked in alcohol or sugar-water for a good long time. They even drip slightly, such that perhaps these others, the “Guests” perhaps they ought to be called, have indeed been stewed and cured in precisely this litchi way. As, perhaps, have I.

 

I see shapes moving within them, snakey, zigzaggy, electric eely shapes tracing their courses through the translucent exteriors of the slumbering Guests, just slightly below the surface, like on the level that one (the layperson) commonly associates with the province of veins and arteries.

 

I can only infer that my own skin appears this same way, awash in lines and curves, dripping like some rag stretched over a clotheslines in the, um how ’bout, Brazilian sun.

 

Bruce is the only who can still move, and he fusses about as if compensating for the stillness all around him, cleaning up dishes, brewing other sorts of teas and some coffees, shuffling restlessly between one Guided by Voices album and another, none of them quite right.

 

I imagine myself, or us, in a holding chamber, about to be packed into a shipping crate and loaded into the hold of a steamer, locked for weeks among the inelegant silence of Cargo, with the crew cooking, eating, drinking, singing, praying, and charting a course on the decks above.

 

“How about this one?” whispers a voice in my ear, a good while later. I can only assume that it’s Bruce, and that he knows I’m as incapable of asking what he means as I would be of responding if I knew.

 

I return to the Cargo hold where some stowaways are trying to get comfortable and debating the pros and cons of sharing a cigarette before the doors get sealed. I listen to their debate with hot breath in my ear and litchi-skinned sleepers in my eyes, as the Night Crusher tries on one outfit after another in the Dodge City Dressing Room, eager to get down to business now that he’s been called upon to do just that.

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