Thursday, September 30, 2010

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode 44: enlightened


It’s September, 1969, and a young soldier named Harvey returns from ‘Nam to his wretched home town in the New Mexico wastelands.


His first day back he kills the bully Bull Thorndyke in self-defense. The big rancher Big Jake Johnstone immediately hires Harvey to act as guide to two guests of his, the beautiful and mysterious couple Dick and Daphne Ridpath (AKA “Smith”).

Later that same night Dick kills a member of the brutal motorcycle gang the Motorpsychos. Their leader, a former Oxford don called Moloch, vows revenge.

Two international assassins named Hans Grupler and Marlene are also stopping as guests at the ranch, along with two suspected government agents named Philips and Adams, and a dissipated English rock star named Derek Squitters.

Big Jake’s beautiful daughter Hope has had an attack of hysterics on Dick and Daphne’s bed.

And this is still only the beginning of this masterwork, which, says Harold Bloom in a recent issue of Boy's Life, “...contains all of life, and so much more."

(Click here for our previous episode; go here for the first chapter of Larry Winchester's A Town Called Disdain, a Desilu Production.)



When Dick got back from his shower he was sporting an erection, so Daphne stopped what she was doing (looking for those missing seashell-blue panties from Chez Ghislaine), pulled off his robe, he was sweating profusely poor thing, she pulled him over to the bed and naked as she already was she climbed into it and grabbed a couple of pillows and told him to go right ahead.

And oddly enough something about the animal-waste way the air smelled coming in through the window looking out on the brown land and the darkening mountains returned her mind to the little village at the foothills of the Himalayas where they had gone to study at the feet of the Maharishi.

Dick had expressed some dubiety but Daphne’s friend Mia had been absolutely rapturous about the Maharishi and she offered to pay their way so off they went.

Dick’s jazz
boîte in Paris had been burnt in the student riots and he was in a glum mood. But wouldn’t you know it Dick Mr. Skeptical was soon this terrific convert just chanting the livelong day.

But not Daphne. Two or three minutes of chanting were plenty for her, thank you.

All these people would be sitting in this temple place just chanting like mad and Daphne would excuse herself saying she had to go to the ladies’ room, and she would go outside and light up a bidi, one of these cunning little native cigarettes, and then take a long stroll along the Ganges.

Little Indian boys and girls would trail along behind her. She supposed she cut an exotic figure for them. Nearly six feet tall, her hair in a pixie and dyed honey blonde. (Mia later copied the style and did quite well by it.)

The children were all barefoot, wearing shorts and no shirts.

She would sit by the river, looking at it and up at the enormous mountains.

The children squatting all about her looking at her quietly with their huge brown eyes.

Then strolling along a bit more, smelling the wood burning in the villagers’ stoves and the cooking smells of odd foods and spices, the smells of animals and growth and rot.

Goats and cows standing by the road, people coming out of their little houses to look at her.

The children followed her everywhere.

On the third day she discovered this tennis club and she went in, had a cocktail and became great friends with the people in the bar there.


The days went on and each day Daphne sat and chanted for a bit, each time trying to stick it out for at least five minutes.

But after two or three minutes she got up “to go to the ladies’ room”.

Her little Indian friends would be on the road outside, and she took to bringing them presents, little trinkets and whatnot that she would pick up in the temple when no one was looking.

One day she forgot to bring them anything so she gave them an English
Vogue she had in her handbag, and they were quite ecstatic about that.

She pointed out the various models and named them for the kids.

“This is Jean Shrimpton. Say Jean Shrimpton.”

“Jean Sheenton,” they said.

“And this is Twiggy. Say Twiggy.”

“Teegy,” they said.

In their turn the children gave her little white rock candies.

And off she would stroll, sucking on the rock candy, and down to the club where she would play tennis and swim and have lunch and cocktails that she never had to pay for.

Several men made heavy plays for her, but as usual with men the more ardent they got the more boring they became.

And one day one of the Maharishi’s assistants told Daphne that the Maharishi would like to have a private talk with her.

Daphne met with him in this comfortable little room where he sat crosslegged on a low couch covered with gaily colored pillows.

He called her my child and beckoned her to sit on the rug by his side where some more gaily colored pillows were strewn.

Daphne curled up on the pillows, folding her legs under her. She was fresh from the tennis court where she had beaten this young English tea merchant in three straight sets; a couple of weeks’ daily practice on the excellent red clay court had sharpened her game marvelously, and she felt quite close to that merciless form she had shown in leading the Bryn Mawr women to the regional championship back in ‘64. She had showered and changed into a crisp white full-skirted dress that she thought made her look like an actress in one of those movies about people in exotic locations with handsome plantation owners and rugged great white hunters.

“Well, my child, you do not seem to have much patience for our chanting nor for my lectures neither.”

“Oh no,” she said, “your highness darling it’s just I have the most weakest possible bladder. You can’t imagine.”

“But then why do you not return after you have voided your bladder my child.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well you know I hate to disturb the others with all my silly comings and goings.”

“The others are in a state of advanced meditation which makes them quite oblivious to the comings and goings of one small tiny little girl in our physical universe my child.”

“Well your excellency I am hardly what you might call small and tiny or little.”

“In the great scheme of things you are but a tiny mote in the eye of a gnat who has flown into the farthest reach of outer space where his buzzing cannot be heard by even the ears of ten thousand gods.”

“Chilling thought. Do you mind if I smoke?”

“Your lungs are meant to breathe only the goodness of pure air my child.”

“No. Really.” She took her cigarettes and lighter out of her pocket book. “Then why are you people always lighting incense every other second?”

In fact there was a censer burning incense right there at the foot of the old boy’s couch.

She lit her cigarette and clicked her lighter shut.

“And another thing,” she said, blowing out a stream of smoke. “If you’re such an all knowing wise man how come you don’t know you have a teensy bit of rice stuck in your beard?”

“I do?” He looked down and began fingering his long brindled beard.

“I mean, really,” went on Daphne, “and who made you the King of Wisdom? If you ask me you’ve got some racket going on here with all your rock-and-roll stars and movie actresses. I mean not that I blame you, everyone has to earn a dollar some way I suppose, but just don’t get so high and mighty with me.”

He had found the grain of rice and put it in an engraved golden plate. He put the plate down on the floor next to Daphne, and she tapped her ash into it.

“You have humbled me, my child.”

“Well, no hard feelings,” she said.

“I am but a weak thing, a mere insect --”

“I know, floating around out by Neptune, so far out even Flash Gordon couldn’t find you.”

“I feel it is I who could learn much from you my child.”

“I don’t know what.”

“I feel you know many things.”

“I feel you are full of baloney,” she said.

“I think that you could teach me my child. You have very strong
bagala energy.”

It sounded something like
bagala but she wasn’t quite sure at all, and she didn’t feel like asking him to repeat it.

“I myself,” he went on, “I have always been a person with strong
mamanana energy, which of course is the masculine counterpart to bagala energy.”

Or was he saying
baccalà energy, like the fish?

“When you combine a strong pure
bagala energy such as you have within you with a strong pure mamanana energy such as I have within me then when these two energies combine you have the even stronger energy the bagamamanana.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about, your worship. I must have been in the ladies’ room when you were covering this material.”

“It’s all in the pamphlets you’ve been given.”

“I’ve been meaning to get to those.”

“I am talking about the essence of male and the essence of female.”

“Oh,” said Daphne.

He was sitting up straight now, looking or rather leering down at her.

“I am talking about the joining together of the two corporeal hosts for the purposes of spiritual advancement.”

He had entwined his hands together now and he was breathing a bit heavily.

“Uh-huh,” said Daphne, suspecting where this was leading.

And sure enough before she knew it he had slipped down from the couch and had his arm around her, his hand gripping her arm.

“You have such strong
bagala,” he whispered, and his beard was suddenly all over her shoulder and she could feel his lips within it like some wet little animal crawling towards her neck.

So she gave him a hard elbow straight into his tubby little gut and he fell backwards gripping it.

“Oh,” he moaned. “My
mamanana. It is surging within me.”

He started to sit back up again and she put her hand on his chest and shoved him back down.

“Well,” she said, “this
bagala energy is surging right out of here, your holiness.”

She stood up and straightened out the skirt of her dress.

He raised a hand toward her.

“Please,” he implored.

“God,” said Daphne, taking a drag on her cigarette, and blowing it down at the old man. “You’re just another dirty filthy old man aren’t you. Is this real gold?”

She put her finger on a large ornately carved vase sitting on a table near the couch.

“Yes my child.”

“If you give it to me I won’t tell anyone about this disgraceful incident.”

“It is not mine to give. All here belongs to our community and all we have belongs to all the world.”

“Well that includes me then.”

She took the vase under her arm and walked out. They were able to sell it at Sotheby’s for five thousand pounds and this financed a quite pleasant vacation in Monaco.



Dick collapsed upon her and she let him stay there for a minute, their bagala and mamanana energies breathing into each other as one.


(Continued here. No one knows why.)


3 comments:

rhoda said...

wicked funny. one of larry's most inspired chapters.

Dan Leo said...

Thanks, Rhoda. Larry's got a million of 'em.

kathleenmaher said...

From the beginning I found Daphne's daily sojourns more holy than the group meditation: strolling along the river; appreciation of the mountains; friendship with the children and fondness of people going about their daily routine--that's spiritual. I did wonder, though, if Dick was aware of her reverie about the Maharishi. (If he's anything like Manny, the answer is no.)