AKA Berkeley, California.
Considered site of CONCAL,
elusive headquarters of
political, social, and militant operations (POSMOPS)
Northern California, possibly underground in Telegraph Avenue area (thus “underground press”), connected by tunnels to hippie “pads.” Operation of such magnitude requires central unit stocked with Gestetner mimeo machines, LSD factories, law libraries, arms caches, storage bins for Mao’s Little Red Book. Gov. Reagan recommends CS gas attack on ducts of Berkeley campus to flush out CONCAL from basement warrens, heating pipes, grad student cubicles in campus catacombs. Others suggest entity dug deep in Berkeley hills or across Bay in San Francisco, known Liberated Zone since 1934 General Strike. FBI believes Longshore President Harry Bridges to be secret hon-cho of Bay Area insurgency. Less reliable opinion places CONCAL in bunkers overlooking scenic Big Sur. No verified sighting of CONCAL has yet been reported.













































































































































































non-human participant




Who are these people

Jimmy quickstepped toward Broadway, the continental divide of West Oakland from Department Store Row, picking up Cosmo on the way, who confirmed the rumor about Governor Reagan calling out the National Guard. It was either false or true.

“And the buses?”

“North somewhere.”

The west and south sides were secure, but each day the Army convoy had lunged down San Pablo from the north, turning toward the Center wherever the cops beat their way, or on peaceful days, wherever they damn pleased.

“Can you get a monitor up to San Pablo? Where the pacifists are. Cathy, Hank, anybody, make sure it’s barricaded.”

A crowd bulged from the door of a bodega, the owner selling Cokes from cases stacked at the entrance. Jimmy and Cosmo dug for change, thrust their hands through the crowd, held the iced cans against their foreheads.

A girl ran past them: “The cops are coming down Clay.”

“Okay, tahroops,” Jimmy yelled at the bodega crowd, “Move out!”

At Clay Street people jittered in all directions.

“What’s the matter?” Jimmy asked whoever might hear him.

“You can’t measure anything,” said a kid in a Stanford football jersey.

“Glad you’re here,” said a monitor, “It’s kinda hairy.”

Whistles trilled up Clay. “Cop code,” the monitor said. A file of fifty, sixty Oakland PD, visors lowered, trotted to the barricade but did not stop (How dare they! Jimmy considered the barricades to be sacred social boundaries), knocked two guys off the hood of a car, charged forward and around, helterskelter now, leaping over benches, kicking trash baskets aside, lashing two-handed with nightsticks at anyone not in uniform, swept past Jimmy, who shoved people back, screamed for calm, felt the rush of a club beside his face, ducked, stumbled against a car fender. Barricades impeded escape now, police must have figured that out. Two cops beat at the legs of a kid stuck under a car. Cosmo leaned across the hood, sprayed the plastic visor of one with black paint, who dropped back, blind; the other took a homerun swing, knocked the can from Cosmo’s hand into a plateglass window.

Hank appeared from somewhere, wedging his arm through the canvas straps of a plywood shield. The main body of police was ahead of them, half a block down, chasing demonstrators, eddying into pools of attack when they caught someone against a wall, doorway, window. The assault, which slashed through the intersection past 14th, left most of the demonstrators behind the police, beached on either side.

“Follow the cops,” Hank bellowed.

“Are you nuts?” A voice in the crowd.

“He’s right,” said Jimmy. “Come on.”

Audacity, more audacity, always audacity (Georges Danton). The police, aiming for the next intersection, had created two groups of protestors, those in front of them at 13th Street and those through whom they’d ploughed to get there. Do they know it, or did they think we’d panic and run?

A can of Coke vaulted from behind Jimmy, rifled high as a 40-yard pass, thwacked a helmet in the ranks ahead. Now they know. Now we die. Jimmy’s thoughts fibrillated, what do we do if they start shooting are there snipers on the roofs where to take cover is this a diversion while they bring the buses in behind us what about the National Guard where’s Cathy? Three whistles sounded. The cops slowed, drew into themselves, regrouped in skeltered order, the rear ranks turning to face their attackers.

Jimmy scrambled to a car roof. The intersection at 13th, unbarricaded, overflowed with demonstrators toward whom the police had at first advanced, then halted. The long block silenced. Someone called out not to throw anything. Jimmy saw shapes huddled behind a pillar in the recessed glass entrance of a used-something store across the street. A collective breath released. The demonstrators at 13th began to move down the street toward the police.

Anything can happen. Jimmy slid from the car, whacked his elbow on the sideview mirror.

“They’re coming this way,” he told Hank.

“The cops?”

Our people.”

“Okaaaaay,” said Hank, meaning, What are the manifold implications of that?

“If the cops attack,” said Jimmy, “we deal with them from this end. If the cops pull back I say we let em through.”

Four sharp whistles. A cube of police advanced (or retreated) toward them, its far edge pacing backward from the advancing crowd, its near side, reshaped into a streetwide wedge, moving against the crowd that swelled to fill the space the police had rampaged through.

Nothing worse than scared cops in a scared crowd, thought Jimmy. “They’re pulling back,” he yelled. “Make way.” The wedge split the retreating demonstrators ahead of itself as by magnetic repulsion, peeling Jimmy to one side of the street, Hank to the other. A hubcap whirred above them into the police. Cops on both sides of the wedge parted, like a mandible, thought Jimmy, as he took a blow to the small of his back, ducked and plunged, his head at waist-level of the fleeing demonstrators. Across the street Hank stumbled against the group in the recessed store entrance, raised his plywood shield against first one cop, then three, who whaled at him with their nightsticks. Hank braced against the pillar, saw people still behind him, suggested hoarsely that they fucking run, prepared for the beating of his life, thought of his father, not kindly. But the cops floundered, they had not fought a sheet of plywood before, the mass of their troops swept on, they had no time for inefficient punishment, withdrew perplexed, knuckles and fingers numbed by the shock of their clubs against something that did not run or break or scream.

Who are these people, thought Jimmy of those dragging bus benches in the wake of the retreating police, bracing the street against their return. I may never see them again. Eight kids bounced a grey government car until it tipped across the sidewalk. Someone opened a firehydrant; it gushed against the government car, fountained the crowd. Municipal water plashed Jimmy’s face; he felt anointed. The sun, at a high angle now, wiped the shadows from the juncture of the streets. Jimmy, in transcendental ecstasy, clenched fist in the air, with his best Mick Jagger swagger jaywalked the recaptured intersection.


Take the lecture to the streets

Jimmy slipped through a hushed crowd at 12th and Washington. Cosmo, sanchopanzaing behind, bumped a demonstrator, said sorry. Girl in a peasant dress. Green eyes. Intense. He eased around her to the front line.

A six-deep legion of California Highway Patrolmen stood across Washington, nothing blocking them but a lone man who paced before them, reviewing the troops, thought Jimmy, addressing the cops directly, and by reflection the demonstrators behind him who stood on benches, rested on tire-flattened cars, listened as if they were both cast and groundlings and had waked from the play to find what was at stake in this monologue to the armed was nothing less than each of them.

“Hundreds, hundreds of steel-sharp darts in each cannister,” the man said, “a thousand cannisters dropped at a time. What would that do to you, to us, me, here on this street? Shred the living flesh from us. Innocent or guilty, cop or college student, shred us, grate us to the bone.”

Wilhelm, Berkeley grad student leader.

“The government used to make them out of metal. But metal shows up on x-rays. Now we, our government, makes them in plastic, x-ray machines can’t find them, so when they riddle Vietnamese children, they cannot be found. The wounds fester, turn to gangrene. And the purpose of this? To tie up scarce economic resources to care for grated shredded dying peasants.”

Jimmy did not dislike Wilhelm. He held him in remove, the campus radical with the Brechtian hair, John Lennon glasses, practitioner of real-critik, self-made European Intellectual born in Minneapolis.

“I will bet, gentlemen, that in the front row, one of you has a son in Vietnam, in the second row one, in the third row two.”

“Watch.” Shauna was at Jimmy’s side. He flinched at her voice, followed her eyes. The third patrolman from the left turned to one beside him, nodded.

“They’re listening,” she said, touched his shoulder. Jimmy suffered a swoon of faintness, looked to her left for Hank, who was there, the right palm of one hand balanced on the tip of a lead pipe in his jeans pocket, gunslinger style. Jimmy nodded brotherly to Hank, stepped away from Shauna. Hank would be satisfied so long as Shauna was his and no longer Jimmy’s.

“South Viet Nam,” said Wilhelm, loud to all and intimate to each, a style developed in Poly Sci 101 lectures to three hundred freshmen. “South Viet Nam,” as if the words were sick child rapist, “a country invented by no one who lived there, cooked up by France and the United States. A Presidential Palace of feudal warlords and blackmarketeers. An Army that can’t fight. Won’t fight. Why should they? They have us — your kids — to serve them, kill and die for them.”

A metallic voice behind the police honked. “Hold the line.”

“The day the Vietnamese bomb El Cerrito, gentlemen“

“Hold the line.”

“And shred the flesh from the bones of your children in the playground.”

“Hold the.”

“The day the Viet Cong drop napalm on the streets of San Leandro and your wives run out of your houses delirious, the cooked skin falling from their arms.”

“Prepare to move!”

“That day I will join the Army.”

“Forward. Clear the area.”

“I’m a Berkeley grad student, so you probably hate me.” Wilhelm took a step back to match the patrolmen’s advance. “But these people aren’t just students. They’re your kids.”

Jimmy balanced himself for the next moves. “How long has he been doing this?” he asked Shauna, not looking at her. To hear her voice.

“Forty minutes,” she said. “He covered the French war, Dienbienphu, the Geneva Agreement, and pacification. He just started on war crimes. I guess they couldn’t take it anymore.”

“Did you join the CHP to beat up kids exercising their right not to fight a war?” Wilhelm called out.

Two patrolmen in the front row raised their batons to ready position to beat up kids exercising their right not to fight a war.

“No,” said Wilhelm, pacing the ranks backward, making his path a zigzag pattern, “You joined to stop speeders and drunks, keep the highways safe for drivers, not the world safe for Standard Oil. I have a son, two years old. I won’t have him die in some President’s War, some MacNamara’s War sixteen years from now.”

Three more steps. Jimmy faded back, ready to lead whatever people chose to do next. Hank pulled the length of pipe from his pocket, held it behind him. Shauna (warrior princess, utterly trustworthy, the starless Georgia night, the gothic jail, Jimmy’s gun in her purse) moved to Hank’s side. Beneath her silk blouse a willowy vale of cream, shuddup Jimmy.

The two patrolmen with raised clubs noticed their colleagues in the forward line had not done the same. They looked to the officer in the center, who shook his head, a pitcher shaking off a signal. They lowered their batons.

“The nightsticks,” called Hank, loudly for Jimmy to hear, softly not to taunt the patrolmen, whose batons remained undrawn, holstered at their waists.

“Clear the area,” commanded the metal voice.

Someone had decided not to club demonstrators.

“Step back,” yelled Jimmy. “They’re not going to attack.”

The crowd parted as for an honor guard. The CHP moved into the intersection, clearing it de jure and de people, but not des barricades. A social contract of spontaneous relations had been improvised and honored. Thus far, it said. No further.

A man walked backward into Jimmy. Wilhelm. Jimmy kissed him on his bald spot. “I love you Willum,” he said. Wilhelm wiped his faux European glasses. He was crying.


Can we still call them demonstrators? As Cosmo said, What appliance are they demonstrating? Words take on dogmatic, magical meanings. Rebels, insurgents, mobs, rabble crackle dangerously in Oakland. Demonstrators they must remain; they have demonstrated power.

The hand on Jimmy’s arm was Cosmo’s.

“You got to see this, man.”

“I got to get to the Center.”

“First you got to see this. Seriously, brother.”

They ran into the open sky of Broadway, turned north toward City Hall Plaza. Cosmo’s radio cackled in his ear. “Up on the fountain. Go.” Jimmy climbed the ornate base, saw blue, black, gray, brown files of uniforms. Marching East.

East? Away from the Induction Center?

“They’ve been ordered to pull out.”

“Get real,” said Jimmy. The marching cops seemed real.

“They’re surrendering the West Side.”

“What’s the trick? What do they say?”

“To quote unquote protect the department stores from looters.”

“I’m insulted,” said Jimmy. “I don’t want their fucking dry goods.”

“They’re retreating, man. We’ve won. The looting thing is to save face.”

Jimmy sat on the fountain lip, gazed at the Beaux Arts layercake of City Hall. Seat of power. All ours. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Rename it for Che. Turn it over to the Panthers. Doves released by commandante in jefe Bobby Seale. Pigeons more likely. Lines of ragged starving police pile their guns in City Hall Plaza, pardons offered to those who reveal atrocities.

Beyond, indefinite blocks north on San Pablo, a thick unmoving streak of gray, small beads strung on either side, black and white, a mirage reflected from the broad haze of the avenue. Jimmy wiped his eyes with the damp bandanna from his pocket.

Army buses, eight or ten, poised like B-52s on a runway, engines idling exhaust, and their fighter escorts, two flanking lines of motorcycle cops revved and waiting.

The convoy.










Stage I Operation Mustang Sally delayed by faulty intelligence and a broken Timex. Buses originating Yreka and Reed (provincial centers of sporadic resistance) hampered by stragglers Antelope Mountain region, site of known hippie-controlled illegal agricultural area.

Lt. Wayne Bigot (Bee-goh) maintained morale, limiting incidents of hangover-related vomiting to level B. Approach to Redding -- government-held stronghold under intensifying attack -- uneventful, though intelligence sources reported sporadic intellectual sniping east and west along strategic Highway 299. Identity of Redding’s “blood-throwing lady” still unknown though description suggests rising discontent among upper-middle classes. Terrorist “Dwight the Destroyer” reported dead of self-inflicted injuries while in military custody.

WILSON PICKETT (code name CM) boarded safely at Redding, took window seat, initiating series of events that can only be described as darn peculiar. Recruits on bus refused to sit in seat next to CM (aforementioned Pickett). Reactions of fear, disgust directed not at CM but at empty seat. Incoherent responses to Bigot’s inquiries, “I dunno, chief,” “strange shit” etc. Becoming impatient, Bigot ordered one recruit to sit there, who responded “I ain’t in the Army yet, man, you sit there,” arousing concern of outright rebellion. The lieutenant approached seat, reported feeling something “I can’t just put in words,” declared to riders that for security reasons the seat would remain unoccupied.

Special precautions taken south of Sacramento due to increased threat from mass media, San Francisco Bay Area, Black Power/Chicano type populations, colleges and universities. Convoy placed on high alert passing UC Berkeley freeway exits. Recruits nervous about proximity to 'Gookville', though ignorant of week-long fighting in Oakland Induction Zone (OIZ). Enemy transports (VW buses, Beetles) sighted at 0630 along Telegraph Avenue corridor between Gookville and OIZ. Ruff-Puffs (Regional and Popular Forces: Oakland and Hayward PD’s, CHP) on route or in place. Convoy joined by CHP motorcycle unit at Holding Position Blue (code name: Greyhound Bus Station)

During transit, CM muttered occasionally to aforementioned empty seat, seemed annoyed, fell asleep during final leg. At Position Blue he requested a supervised bathroom break, granted.

Retreat by Ruff-Puffs at 1348 to protect downtown department stores not communicated to recruits for reasons of morale. Personnel instructed to maintain U.S. Government-style dignity in face of provocations, agitprop theater, insults, hurling of fecal matter, mayhem, murder, etc.




DD Form 139


The convoy

Army buses, eight or ten, idled exhaust, motorcycle cops in two flanks, revved and waiting.

Just north of where the pacifists “hold” the intersection. Military knows our weak point. My kingdom for a walkie-talkie. Make that two. With a voice at the other end. If Cosmo finds Cathy, Hank, Shauna, if we block San Pablo, if I convert Harris Longworth to self-defense by redemptively stomping his head.

Jimmy skirted a detail of police slogging toward Broadway, caught up with Wilhelm running north on Clay.

“Coming down San Pablo,” Wilhelm chuffed.





They burst into the triune intersection filled with practitioners of the Gandhian arts, yelling, “Block the street! Block the damn street! Get those trees into the street!”

Wilhelm braced his feet against the edge of a concrete tub, levered his weight backward against the potted trunk; the tub tipped, rocked. Jimmy grabbed the treetop as it drooped, hung from it, feet off the ground.

“Hey man, no,” said a transcendental dude, “trees are living things.”

“So are the kids on the buses, asshole,” said Wilhelm.

“Trees are as important as human beings,” insisted the man. Granny glasses. Lives on nuts and berries.

“Then go plant one,” Jimmy grunted. The tree toppled, the base narrowly not crushing Wilhelm.

“Every form of life is sacred,” said the man.

“Jesuits,” Wilhelm muttered. “They’re all Jesuits.”

A woman helped them roll the tree — whose trapezoidal pot kept veering in circles — into the street.

“Sit down! Block the intersection!” Jimmy ran among them. Some sat, squatted, then stood. “That’s not our instructions,” a kid in a San Jose State sweatshirt explained to Jimmy.

“From who?”

“You know, it’s just not.”

My fault my fault my fault I should have stayed. I should have potted Longforth and used him for a barricade.

The universe broke open, CHP motorcycles roared in his head, brushed him, cleaved the crowd. He toppled into potted branches; Army buses huge as the state towered over him, windows framing dim male faces, Grey Line tourists to the Styx. Jimmy slumped against the useless tree.

“Don’t go. Don’t go,” cried the crowd, waving fingers of V at the buses slicing through pacifist butter, as if that would enchant them to repent and go hence.

Fuckemfuckemfuckemfuckemfuckem mantra’d Jimmy to a nonspecific vengeful god.

“What are you doing?” demanded Wilhelm. “To the Induction Center!” He made it sound like To the Winter Palace. Jimmy staggered up, followed.




But slow, Jimmy, as you make your way. You have created all the time in the world. This book is written years from now. The Vietnam War is over, we all know who won. On October 16, 1967, in which you exist, the buses will arrive, the Center induct their contents, and they will arrive and induct for weeks and months, but the draft is over. Next week, General Lewis B. Hershey, the J. Edgar Hoover of the Selective Service System, will freak out and order all local boards immediately to draft every eligible male protestor against the war. As he waits futilely for his President, Lyndon Johnson, to back him up with an Executive Order, he and the military draft will go down in disgrace. Senators, congressmen, and university presidents will denounce him as a fascist. Hershey in turn will attack baby doctor Benjamin Spock as a traitor. “I know you can’t shoot people for moral treason,” he declares, “but I think we will probably have to start shooting people who at the present time we tolerate.” He never hears from the White House again until Richard Nixon takes office, fires him, replaces Hershey’s treasured system with a bizarre lottery, soon discarded.

You can’t know it as you stumble toward the Center, but Stop the Draft Week stopped the draft.


Hell no

Left foot on the bus step, right foot hovering the pavement, the beast of noise NO NOBODY lashed Willy with its howl, bouncing GOES HELL off the blind gray windows of the building NO. Cop white helmets black leather gauntlet, words bursting in air NOBODY GOES. Kid in front of him short fucker tried to nail somebody behind two cops HELL NO. Over the drummed backbeat a scraping soprano to the left: Baby killers! Man pushing the woman who yelled Baby killers! Can’t they get along, these people?

From behind, the man’s hair was Willy-colored. Turning away from cringing woman, man’s profile Willy’s. Willy nose, Willy chin. Looking straight at Willy now with Levi Jean eyes. Does his girlfriend say “when you look at me with those eyes I’d do anything”? How in a strange city does someone get to look like me? Well older but isn’t there some law against it like counterfeiting? Those are my fucking looks. Willy took two steps, eyes on the impostor. That’s fucked up. I’m not one of them, I’m a regular guy. Now the man and woman -- menstrual-colored hair, The Blood Lady? -- were lost inside the words.

HELL NO Voice in his left ear Move it! straightarm shove to the shoulder. Not a demonstrator: Lt. Beego, NOBODY Move it soldier! Not a soldier, yet. Stumbled toward a shitscared bureaucrat, looks like whatshisname Hoss on Bonanza, at opaque double doors GOES . Everybody looks like somebody else, but why me? HELL NO. Crazy Baby Killers chick on the rag. I’d of shoved her too. I did shove here. I mean he did it, the other guy, for me.


The door behind him went whump click.

Nobody goes

Someone had been clever. Jimmy doubted it was the cops. Two lines of motorcycle police formed a black leather gauntlet from the bus to the Center over which the inductees humped their doom. On either side the demonstrators screamed, chanted, manifested, whooped, and sloganeered, but both sides knew the drama had run to its katastrophe.

Wedged three-deep behind police lines, Jimmy heard an officer harry the inductees, “Move it, move it!” Most seemed pale and tired, one flipped a bird but kept his head down.

A screech of Baby killers! Baby killers! snapped him to the right. Woman wearing a red bandana.

“Shut up, lady.” He waved his arms at her, referee calling foul.

“Who do you think you —?” She cupped her outrage around her mouth, “Baby killers!”

Jimmy moved to block her, used his height to press her backward.

“That haven’t killed anybody. They haven’t killed any babies,” he said.

She cringed, confused, hated him.

“They’re not the goddamn enemy, sister. Shut up.”

He turned to block her with his back, saw the last kid issue from the bus, one foot poised above the sidewalk, caught in the crowded light above the heads. Not real. Very not real. The line of inductees lurched. One of them reached between patrolmen to swing at a protester, but Jimmy was at full stop. The kid, that one.

Either I’m crazy or he’s me.

No. If I’m crazy he’s me.

If he’s me, I’m crazy.

He is me. I am crazy. Younger than me. No, me younger. Hallucination. Too much Dexamil® .

An officer shoved the hallucination from behind. “Move it, soldier.”

Jimmy pushed into the human high-pressure zone to find him again, but the line had passed. The officer’s back crossed the threshold.

The door behind him went whump click.


High times at the IC

After the click, a form of silence.

I’m in [faintly from outside: HELL] a negro church. Pews. Black guys, kids breathing. Boys Only Church of the Locker Room. Sweat and crotch itch. Uniformed men the pastors. I guess now we take off our clothes. Willy unbuttoned a button. No one else did. Blushed. Shit. Do they really look up your asshole?

Two minutes ago he was a boy on a bus.

His shin struck a molded-plastic salmon-colored chair. Ubiquitous. Word on the spelling bee.

Sure ain’t Canada.

And they do look up your asshole.

Willy sat on the Group W bench between Dwight — who’d taken to following him around now that he’d died — and a hippie who said he drank the blood from his veins and replaced it with black coffee. Willy believed the hippie because he had yak hair, smelled like mice, and was buck naked among the skivvied. Dwight wore magma.

Guy goes into his physical painted green, said the hippie. Sergeant says, “You! Why’re you green?” Guy says, “Cause my mom’s yellow and my dad’s blue.” He gets deferred.

— Are you really dead? Willy asked Dwight.

— Depends on what you mean.

— What I mean, Dwight, is not alive.

— Dead is a chemical situation.

— Yours has sort of been rearranged, hasn’t it?

Dwight crackled.

— You could get me in trouble just sitting here, said Willy.

— That’s the last thing I would ever do, Wilson.

— That’s the last thing you did do. You couldn’t even burn up your own file.

Guy goes in, he’s star halfback and tight end for the Lions. Shrink’s in the Army Reserves. Guy offers the shrink fifty-yard-line season tickets and honor guard status for his unit at the home game flag ceremonies. He gets out.

— What is your name anyway? asked Willy.

— Eisen, said Dwight. Dwight David Eisen.

Willy tuned out the hippie.

— Like Ike?

— My folks didn’t like Ike.

— So they

— never made the connection.

— Ike didn’t drop napalm on nobody.

— Sure he did.

— Not on himself.

Guy’s been seeing a psychiatrist because he’s freaked out by his inability to confront the major rite of passage of his generation, Vietnam. Can’t decide whether it’s more manly to go to Vietnam or refuse. Psychiatrist writes him a note for the Army shrink, IN CODE. See, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists every mental disorder by number: 1031.4 fear of washing hands. Shrink explains: A) I’m writing it in code so you don’t have to carry around a note in English that says you’re crazy, B) it doesn’t matter if the military shrink looks the code up when he reads it because if the note is in code your mental disorder is obviously so serious you shouldn’t serve in the Army. Guy takes the note to the induction center, shows it to shrink, shrink writes a big OK on the guy’s file, says, Welcome to the armed forces, son. Guy says what about the note? Shrink decodes it for him: pathological liar, uncontrollable violent tendencies, fantasies of rape and murder. Just the kind of man we’re looking for. Gets sent to Nam.

— I burned your records, said Dwight, you could of got off scot free.

— Mona’s mom, remember?

— Oh yeah.

— She didn’t forget me.

Dwight looked at his permanent fists. Their eyebrows were getting bushy.

— I used to study her in Chemistry. Mona.

— You had a crush on Mona?”

— Kinda. I wanted to be like her.

— You mean cute?

— Yeah. And — big boobs.——

— You’re a guy, Dwight. I don’t want to be insensitive, but even dead you’re a guy.

— Think about it, Willy. If I had boobs I could feel them up whenever I wanted. Wouldn’t have to ask, or get turned down, or talk, or anything. I don’t see how girls keep their hands off themselves.

— Dwight. I’m in my shorts in a room full of guys. Could you shut up about this.

— Just trying to kill.

Guy goes in. Got tracks like a buffalo stampede, no blood pressure, brain’s a speed trap. They keep passing him, A-OK. Gets to the shrink. Shrink asks, what do you think of the Army. He says, you’re all criminals, Westmoreland’s a war criminal on the scale of Hermann Göring, I hope you’re all hanged after this is over. Shrink flips out, throws a paperweight at him, screams “I hate you! I hate you people! I’ll make sure you never work for the government ever, starting now.” He gets out.

— So I went down to Dickers, said Dwight, and bought a pink angora sweater, a double-D bra and two balloons. You know how it felt?

Willy knew.

— If you don’t touch the balloons themselves, just rub outside the sweater.

“Shut up,” yelled Willy, ready to punch off Dwight’s facial charcoal.

“I’m sorry, man,” said the hippie.

“Pickett. You. To the psychiatrist’s office,” a uniform said.

“I never told you the peanut butter story,” said the hippie. “But I suspect it’s apocryphal.”

The shrink’s office was one more cubicle but did contain a non-molded-plastic, non-salmon-colored chair.

“Let’s see your file,” said the officer.

“Should I sit down?” Willy handed the man the manila folder.

The shrink spent a minute searching and not finding. “Says here you smoked marijuana.”

“Yes sir.”

“Do you believe that smoking marijuana will impair your ability to ably serve in the armed forces?”

“No sir,” said Willy.

“Then why the hell did you write it down?”


Who am I?

The great collective decayed; the relations it spawned disintegrated.

A collective spawns relations? You’re tripping, Coz.

I do not speak in metaphor, Jimmy. It was a collective of people and things. Not thing things. We’re hung up on things, we think everything’s a thing. Everything, see? the word for totality. What we created was not a demonstration (another thing), it was a collective of people, cars, trees, bus benches, spraypaint cans, nightsticks, radio signals, fire hydrants, thoughts, minds, motorcycles, buses, the Center. Anyway, ‘things’ are activities, relations. Like that fire hydrant you’re sitting on.

Not a thing? said Jimmy.

No. When it’s open, water rushes through, it rusts, chemistry changes. It gets backed into by a truck, the paint flakes. It’s not the same fire hydrant as yesterday. When an activity is really slow people call it a thing. Like a mountain. A million years ago, no Mt. Shasta. Today, Mt. Shasta. It appeared. Anything that appears is an action, a going on, not a thing. How’s your head?

A thing in the act of hurting.

Stay here, I’ll get some aspirin.

Sanitation workers appeared, uprighting benches and cars. How do they see it? A raucous picnic. Affront to natural law. Most of western downtown was still blocked, streets converted to pavilions on which former rebels, insurgents, insurrectionists, now people, gathered, talked, wandered. Ok, Cosmo, when does a ‘demonstrator’ revert to being a ‘person’? And the kid inside the Center, now a what, soldier, draftee?

Whooo am Iii,

To sit and wuhunder


sang Country Joe and the Fish in the lake of his head.



Clothed, file in hand, between guy 3 and guy 5 at the final counter, Willy stood two yards from being a soldier. The Sergeant stamped guy 1’s file, motioned him to the door. Sergeant stamped guy 2 (now guy 1)’s file, motioned him to the door. Willy, now guy 2, said “Excuse me,” to guy 3, stepped out of the line, walked upstairs to the third floor, saw an EXIT sign, stepped out on the fire escape. He had forgotten the demonstrators, who clustered in groups below. No cops in sight. He descended to the second floor landing, thought he saw Dwight in the crowd, but it was a bearded man in black motorcycle helmet, holding a poster of a bearded man smoking a cigar. The metal door banged behind him. An officer, major, colonel (stars, bars, oakleaves, something) leaned over the railing beside him. “Silly fucks,” he said, patted Willy on the back, returned through the door.

Willy unhooked the weights, lowered the metal stairs to the ground, descended to the street. A turned-over Chevy and two concrete bus benches blocked the intersection. Two kids lay on a mattress smoking dope, others hunched on the curb. Willy feared the group at the corner though they looked like guys from his high school, sweaty and tired like him. He wearing baseball warmup, chinos, like them. The street had been strip-mined of cars, trucks, buses. He stood holding his official life in his hands, like a shrimp without a shell.



"Here," said Cosmo, "and a Coke. The Steering Committee is in session at the next fire hydrant."

"We’ll be late as usual," said Jimmy. They waited on the white stripe for Cathy, who rounded the corner from where the buses and motorcycles poised to pack up those no longer civilians, not yet soldiers. Abductees. Drafteeds.

Cathy did not run. There was no music. They propped each other up, kissed, suspended in trance, allowed no more.

"How’s your head?'

"Still attached."

He tried to smile, but had no strength for it. "I love you," he said. She nodded.

"The Committee awaits," said Cosmo, third man out. Jimmy and Cathy, the Heavy Couple.

A young man holding a manila folder appeared from the rear of the Induction Center, seemed to search for a street sign, clung to the sidewalk as if the street were full of traffic, saw Jimmy and Cathy, raised his hand as if to ask a question, dropped it. Struck. Dumb. Stared at himself standing with a girl on the white line.

The kid. The Who Is He. Jimmy’s eyes gazed at him from someone else’s body which wasn’t someone else’s body. Same height.

Five, six years younger. But. Shorter hair. But.

Cathy tripletaked, gasped.

Cosmo quadrupletaked, slapped himself.

Jimmy reached out, thought if he touched him he’d know he was real. The boy ran toward them, veered, headed toward the front of the Center. And, what could be worse? behind the kid clumped a smudged, coal-blackened thing, charred or tarred, human and vaporous, who stared at Jimmy with cue-ball eyes and lumbered on.

"No no," said Jimmy," Come back. Hey. We won’t hurt you." He semaphored with aching arms. "Don’t go in there. Come back."

"Come back brother," said Cathy.

"What was that?" said Cosmo.

"Them," said Jimmy.

"Them?" said Cathy and Cosmo.

"The kid and the other one, the burned one."

"The kid who looked like you," said Cathy, "that’s all. We’re exhausted, seeing things, burned-out. "

"Hallucinating," said Cosmo. "I know about hallucinating."

Willy skidded at the corner, pounded the door till the bureaucrat opened it, waved his folder at him, slapped it down before the sergeant at the counter. A janitor was sweeping the room.

"I forgot to give you this," said Willy.

"Get on the bus. There’s one left. Go."

"The the the demonstrators. They threatened me. Sir. I gotta join the military now.”

The sergeant shrugged, flipped open the file. Something caught his attention on the inside flap that made him look Willy over with an oddly respectful eye.

"I’ll drive you over," he said, "make sure you get there. Not standard procedure but." He nodded toward the folder, closed it, put it under the counter.

"Thank you, sir, I appreciate."

What kind of world is this? I walk out into some after-the-bomb-flick and the first guy I see looks just like me, exactly like me, down to the last detail like me, is me, maybe older, but me. Takes a step toward me, looks at me with my eyes, and he knows it, cause he’s shocked too.

And the chick stared at us like whiplash.

And Dwight the Stray Dead Dog. Thankgod no one sees him but me.

Makes you want to take shelter, clear out, go to another country where nobody looks like you, a country all the way on the other side of the world where nothing is the same. Where nothing like this could possibly happen.