Who is this guy? the brain surgeons wondered. He has no imprints, no delayed circuit functions... There were two surgeons at work. Dr. Fleishschnitt and Dr. Umdenken. both. Graduates of the finest brain-tampering and repairing programs in the country. both? Two of them, to be sure. Gnarled fingers of ten count attest to their duality, but the inner conversations of the duo are unrecorded, testifying to a much larger plot, a multifarious conspiracy of the most dread sort. The twitter of language in the future. Not a ticket into the Western Lands, but a much worse vision...
Each car had a story, and I knew only one of them. The red van with the GO AMERICA sticker on it. A blond woman driving. She had stopped in the small town by the biggest mountains in the valley for a can of pop. Then she had driven up a dirt road (the sign said Roads Impassable In Winter) and she had stopped in a blank arroyo, a crevice leading to the valley below. I knew. She was an agent for the paper, the big paper in Albuquerque. She was looking for a legendary dope-smuggler reported to be hiding in these mountains. Her story, though, was not to be written according to plan...
Beyond the port-a-potties lurked a band of radiation-sucking mutant hippies, a band of lunatics removed to this area in the mid-70s by a court order. A group forever twisted into barbarous shape and intent by plutonium-tainted marijuana, a group destined to live from one heap of garbage to the next, as long as the heap contained glowing nuclear waste. What better place, then, than the dark canyons and hidden trails of the Los Alamos National Lab region?
The blond reporter had a camera. The camera had a battery. The battery contained Americium. Deadly radiation. She walked past the dumpsters and potties into the canyon. From a small copse of piñons, the mutant hippies watched hungrily. They watched, not her gait, not her face, but only her wrist. They drooled. She approached their hiding place. "Carlos?" she called. "Are you there?" Carlos was the connection she was to meet, the link who was to take her to the drug camp, the hidden landing strip of the dread "Gobernador Connection." She called again. The leader of the mutant hippie band leaped from hiding, his tie-dyed T-shirt rag flapping in the strong breeze. In the distance, a dog howled. The dog believed itself to be, simultaneously, a harbinger of death and a coyote. But it was a dog. A dog who had been struck and killed on the side of New Mexico Highway 4 by a Jeep Cherokee 4X4, only to be revived by a bolt of lightening during a freak snowstorm. A Frankenstein-dog now, feared by the local Pueblos as a devil and announcer of frantically sad tidings, and not at all feared by the Navajos down the road because it's much harder to scare a Navajo. The Apache didn't even know of the dog. Had they, they would probably just have killed it... I mean, a dog is a dog, eh? Anyway, this dog howled and alerted the blonde Albuquerque reporter. She had heard the legend, and she knew she would die. Or she thought she would, anyway...but the mutant hippies, with their glowing breath and wild ragged peace-sign bell-bottom regalia, having followed their leader-which only proved their mutantcy-were held up short by a strange phenomenon.
It was a cowboy. Worse, a cowboy on acid. He grinned crazily at them, twirling a loop of licorice (red) as if it were a lariat. "I'll rope and brand all of yew renegade steers..." he chortled. Even the mutant hippies backed up, afraid. Was this the quality of the 1990s LSD as they'd heard of it? Terrible stories of spaced-out accountants following trails of colored numbers into a virtual balance-sheet fantasy world? Could be, and the cowboys now too... ugh! Horrible.
The reporter was roped first, the licorice wrapping her feet neatly. The yelping bright-eyed cowpoke hauled her in saying "Yeeee-Hah!" and suchlike cow-stuff.
She screamed once. Eeeeeek!
A sheriff named Tmea Tapia heard her cry, amazingly enough. I say "amazingly enough" because he was deaf, more or less...more, probably, since his ears had bitten off in a nasty bar fight in San Luis Cabezon years ago. A fight about the veracity of cattle mutilations. Tapia had taken the side that argued for a "natural" explanation: perverts, coyotes, perverted coyotes, etc. and another guy, one Logano Vigil, had taken offense to talk of perverts and had bitten off Tapia's ear.
The blond reporter-whose name is Ravinna Morales Smith-Wilson-had covered the story when it happened. Of course, Tapia had no way of knowing that the scream he was now trotting off to investigate belonged to an acquaintance. Eeeeek! she shrilled again.
Tapia ran toward the sound.
Or at least he ran toward where the sound should have been, had his missing earlobes been there to deflect the vibes properly. Since, sadly, they were not present, he ran off into a stone sheep pen, the edge of which was in his line of flight. "Arrrggghh-oufff!" he grunted painfully as he landed in the midst of a flock of penned sheep. The sheep, not accustomed to deputies landing in their midst, immediately assumed he was an alien from another galaxy there to mutilate them, and so promptly trampled him to death. Too bad. It could have been a gallant rescue.
Meanwhile, unaware that her knight in brown uniform had fallen into baaaad company, the blond reporter (she had brown roots) was struggling to break free of her red ropes.
The cowboy on acid stared at her. "The only way out, you ol' doggie," he drawled. "Is to eat your way out."
"But I'm on a diet" the reporter wailed pitifully. "The Jenny Craig Plan. She has spies everywhere. They'll kill me if I eat this rope." Heck, thought the befuddled cowboy on acid. This here cow is a TALKING BOVINE. Ain't that something.
But the mutant hippies had regained their sense somewhat now, and, lured by the scent of the battery in the reporter's wristwatch, they came again from among the junipers and drooled savagely. (Also, they had taken offense at the cowboy's conflation of "blond dieting reporter" and "talking bovine.") (It had been a 60s thing.)
You may be wondering by now where I have gotten off to in this narrative. It's like this:
The brain surgeons, by carefully touching electrical probes to various neural pathways and junctions in my head, had been creating a virtual typewritten account of
Well, it's really a part of their doctoral thesis in brain-fucking, sort of...I mean, it all started on the Santa Fe Plaza with the discovery of the corpse. Father Medullio de Varga had found it after 7:00 mass one day...the Eucharist. Lying there on the pavement by the memorial statue, the one marking the ending place of the Old Santa Fe Trail. The corpse. The body of God. Dead. But who-? Who had killed God? He knew it was the body of the LORD. He'd seen it enough in church and had studied its anatomy in great detail at the Vatican College. Oh yes-it was definitely God. And quite dead. What could he do? Of course, he called the police. And lo-! I was the cop who answered the call, I-the only psychic cop on duty that morning...
And so-well, you see how it had to be that I would narrate this story of the reporter and the mutant hippies and all. I was connected in a way, being the homicide cop in charge of the case of Who Murdered God? It all has to do with the interconnectedness of all things, visible and invisible, as it says in the Apostle's Creed. Cattle mutilations, omniscience (limited and total), reporters, hippies, dumpsters, the LANL scandals involving the dumping of nuclear waste on Taco Bell All-Beef Filling, all connected, woven into the tapestry of the Great Southwest. Not a mere decadence as one might find in the Southeast, say Mississippi, but more-not merely a rotten thread spun through the weave of societal cloth, but a whole tapestry of bizzarity, a minstrel of Howling Madness spun from Coronado to Marty Chavez.
Who else would know of these things and be able to stomach the telling of them?
Gulliermo de Vasquez y Faulkner never could have handled it. Too neo-Castillian for him. Only sordid Gothic horror, wherein the intelligent female becomes what is expected-namely, a "slut" or "Southern Lady" -would do for him. But that is tame stuff, here-boys, the men in THIS story aren't prissy mama-boys sniffin on juleps and honeysuckle, no sir. They are primed for rock and fire, true gritty perversion, stark and real, no mock gentility here. The mutated hippies have now-in our absence, and thanks to the head surgeons-EATen the cowboy AND the wristwatch. They have not eaten the blond reporter, no no no-HER they have recruited into their ranks, placed her in an old Orgone Box that W.S. Burroughs threw away, and sterilized her. She is now among them, always hungry for radiation.
The US government has left the ballot boxes down in Mescalero and are now looking for the mutant hippies. They need them now, want them to eat the toxins in the dump. Willing to pay top dollar for them now...ha. The more things mutate, the more they stay the same, as Oppenheimer once said.... Thus, the agents of Uncle are now afoot in the Jemez, seeking bits of the True Cross with which to bait their clever theological trap for the Old Ones. That is, the old Indian godz of these mountains and rivers. These godz are needed in order to convince the population of Jemez Pueblo and perhaps San Ildefonso to surrender the location of the hippies.
As if they knew. The US Government thinks they know, suspects them of harboring the mutants.
They don't know. How could they, and why would they care? Just another batch of Euro-loonies running amok in the hills and canyons and not a subject worthy of serious discussion.
The Old Ones were even less interested in such doings, having given themselves over to New Age speculations on the Karmic Stock Exchange and such.
Try to tell the US Government a damn thing, though. Here they came, all ablaze with paper and regulations.
The Eaten Cowboy's horse, a find strawberry roan with a face like Louis L'Amour, was now of course riderless...it came away from the scene before and headed for water, as horses will do.
And it is in THIS action that we will find the nut: the horse seeking water finds the evidence-unwitting-that will exonerate the Mormons of the murder of God and the dumping of His corpse on the Santa Fe Plaza, and place the blame squarely on the place where it belongs: God Himself. A faked suicide. A deal with the Old Ones.
The US Government had brought a forensics team along.
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